Trust warns of 'wasted resources' as figures reveal 50,000 people missed medical appointments last year

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Patients failing to turn up to hospital appointments are wasting resources and stopping others from accessing medical support.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust says nearly 50,000 people missed outpatient appointments at Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury and District hospitals last year.

The shocking statistic equates to eight per cent of all appointments.

Releasing the figures today, the trust said: "Not only is the trust wasting resource to run clinics where patients do not attend but other patients are missing out on the opportunity to see a clinician."

The organisation has put measures in place to try to reduce the number of missed appointments.

It has introduced a text messaging system to remind patients about their appointment and give them chance to amend it if they cannot attend.

Jo Halliwell, deputy director of operations, said: “We appreciate that sometimes people are unable to keep their appointment and need to change it, but many patients simply forget.

"We’re hoping that reminding them by text will be much more effective. It is an instant way of communicating, which more and more organisations are using.

“If we are aware in advance that a patient is not able to attend we can give the appointment to another patient, ensuring we are fully utilising the resource already assigned to run the clinic.”

Patients now receive a text seven days before their scheduled appointment asking them to confirm, request to rebook or cancel. Those without mobile phones receive a message to their landline.

A further reminder with the appointment details is then sent 48 hours before.

The messaging system is being used alongside traditional letters. These are sent to all patients confirming their appointment when it is booked and reminding them of the details two weeks beforehand.

Ms Halliwell said: “We saw positive results when we ran the pilot across three of our services. We saw the number of patients not attending their appointments reduce by almost five per cent.”

The trust asked all patients to ensure their contact details are up to date.