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OVER the course of 12 months, more than 76,400 GP practice appointments were missed in Wiltshire, leading to £2.7million of pressured finances being wasted and the equivalent total population of Trowbridge and Salisbury not being able to get an appointment when they needed one.
Between July 2016 and June 2017, Wiltshire’s 50 GP practices were recording an average of 29 missed GP, practice nurse and healthcare assistant appointments every week. Known as ‘Did Not Attends, missed appointments have a huge impact on the health economy, preventing other patients from being seen and wastes practitioners’ valuable time.
Cheryl Attril, patient services manager at Spa Medical Centre in Melksham said, “Missed appointments are a source of great frustration at a time when appointment availability is at a premium. Although it is inevitable that some appointments will be forgotten or missed due to exceptional circumstances, we encourage all patients to let us know as soon as they can if they are unable to attend, so that someone else can have their slot.
“In the last 12 months almost 1,800 appointments were missed (1,795). This creates wasted time for the clinicians and longer waiting times for patients seeking appointments. Our average is around 150 missed appointments per month. Bearing in mind we have a patient population of 11,600 and see around 1,250 patients per week, this equates to a DNA (did not attend) rate of just under 3%.
“We actively look at ways of reducing this figure, for example we have a text reminder service in place. We also offer a variety of ways in which patients can cancel their appointments. These are; in person by calling into reception and speaking to one of the team; by telephone on our dedicated cancellation line 01225 860025 -this is a voicemail service so you just need to leave us a message stating your name, date of birth and the time of your appointment; by text, to 07955 392877 and online.”
Most Wiltshire practices have multiple ways to make cancelling an appointment easy at any time of day including online systems, dedicated telephone lines with answer machine facilities and text messaging services. Speak to your practice receptionist to find out what’s available at your practice to help make cancelling appointments easy for you, your family and friends.
The reported number of missed appointments in Wiltshire wasted £2.7million of public money, which could have been spent on over 63,000 hours of nursing hours in a GP practice, or used to pay for: • 324 heart bypasses, • 2,853 cataract operations, or • 711 treatments for stroke
Dr Girdher from a Wiltshire practice said, “The numbers speak for themselves and highlights the collective impact missed appointments across Wiltshire have on our local health economy. Everyone has a responsibility to look after the NHS – it is tax payers’ money after all – and we urge patients to remember to cancel their unwanted appointments and to help their friends and family to do the same.”