Missed appointments cost NHS in Lincolnshire more than Â£6.6 million
During early 2014 Healthwatch Lincolnshire was made aware of the increasing number of patients not attending appointments with their doctor. The issue was raised by both Patient Participation Groups, and GP Surgeries themselves, as patients failing to attend their appointments was found to be dramatically impacting the surgeries.
As a result, Healthwatch Lincolnshire conducted a survey across the county examining why patients ‘did not’ or ‘could not’ attend their appointments, and found that one in four people have booked an appointment but not attended in the last 12 months, with the two biggest reasons cited as transport and appointment booking. However, a staggering 33 per cent of patients admitted to completely forgetting to attend their appointment.
The findings from the Healthwatch Lincolnshire DNA survey has highlighted to the local health and social care systems what the triggers are for these missed appointments, revealing details such as patient transport, appointment systems or individual barriers, enabling the local area to start addressing the issues raised.
As independent consumer champions dedicated to representing the views of the public, many of the points raised have caused concern, for example 56 per cent of those unable to attend these appointments were between the ages of 50 and 89 years, prompting GP’s to recognise that such vulnerable patients need more support to be put in place.
It has been made clear that the overall impact of such ‘Do Not Attends’ on the wider health community, is creating more demand on already overstretched services, as patients unable to visit their doctors are presenting themselves at Walk-In Centres or A&E.
CEO of Healthwatch Lincolnshire Sarah Fletcher said: “Healthwatch Lincolnshire has for some time been hearing of concerns as to the numbers of patients not attending their healthcare appointments, these are not just with their doctor but other services such as hospital outpatients.”
She added: “Concerns have been raised by both professionals and patients particularly with how the significant levels of non-attendance is impacting services. To help those involved better understand what some of the barriers are Healthwatch has recently conducted a patient survey, the results of which are available in our report. When we started this work we did not have any idea what the results would reveal, patients told us transport and administration were the top two reasons. We have now shared our report with the organisations who are delivering and paying for the services to help them identify what changes need to be put in place to help with this increasing and costly issue.”
Healthwatch Lincolnshire is one of 152 local Healthwatch groups set up by the Government as part of the health reforms set out in the Health and Social Care Act in 2012.
Healthwatch Lincolnshire gathers patient views and represents those views to local NHS organisations to make sure they are taken account of.
To view the full details of the report or to share your views of the experience you’ve had with your local Health and Social care services visit www.healthwatchlincolnshire.co.uk