Doctors told to Skype and text to tackle millions of missed appointments

Daily Mail Reporter


09:05 GMT, 27 August 2012



09:08 GMT, 27 August 2012

One in 10 health appointments were missed last year, costing the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds and delaying treatment for other patients, figures suggest.

Patients missed 5.5 million hospital appointments last year, the Department of Health said.

Although the figure is 250,000 less than the previous year, ministers are calling for hospitals to use more innovative solutions to tackle the number of people who miss appointments.

The doctor will Skype you now: Doctors are using online tools to see their patients

The doctor will Skype you now: Doctors are using online tools to see their patients

Newham University Hospital has started a pilot where diabetes patients who do not need a physical examination are seen via Skype – a system that provides free online video and audio calls.

They said since the scheme came in missed appointments have fallen by 11 per cent.

Feedback from patients has found that the quality of care is the same as face
to face appointments.

A number of hospitals including King’s College, London, and Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust already use a text message system to remind patients of their appointments.

By using reminders and other methods such as
online cancellation forms, it is easier for patients who do need to
cancel to get in touch with their hospital.

Health Minister Simon Burns said: 'It is important that people realise that not turning up for their agreed appointments, means other patients’ care might be delayed and doctors’ and nurses’ time could be wasted, costing taxpayers money.

'Today we are highlighting the number of missed appointments so people can see the impact this is having on their NHS.

'Patients often have genuine reasons to miss an appointment, but it can have a big impact on the care we can offer to other patients. It is important that the public understand we have responsibilities too, like not wasting precious NHS resources.

'I’m glad to see that the NHS is increasingly using simple ideas such as texting their patients before an appointment or seeing them via Skype.

'These could have a dramatic impact and I want to see more hospitals making use of them.'