Health chiefs said the missed appointments cost £35,000 a day
About 300 appointments are missed in total every day at Leicester’s three hospitals.
Health chiefs said the missed appointments cost £35,000 a day, or more than £12 million over the year.
The figure is based on attendance for appointments at Leicester Royal Infirmary, Glenfield and Leicester General between April and September.
Will Monaghan, director of performance and information at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: “An average of 300 patients every day do not turn up to a planned outpatient appointment and with the average appointment costing £118 that means more than £35,000 is being wasted every day.”
He said patients received text reminders of their appointments in about half of all cases and the hospital was trying hard to reduce the figure.
Mr Monaghan said: “There are a number of things we have been doing to remind patients about their appointments.
“About 50 per cent of our patients get a text message to remind them.
“Many of our services also send out a reminder letter as well as a text message and some of our services book their appointments by using a process called partial booking, where the date and time of appointment is agreed verbally with the patient.
“Some patients inform us they are unaware of their appointments, especially letters not being delivered or appointments arranged at short notice.
“We continue to work to improve this across every service.”
He appealed to patients who have hospital appointments to get in touch to inform the hospital if, for any reason, they are unable to make it to a planned appointment.
Mr Monaghan said: “I would always encourage patients to let us know if they cannot make a planned appointment so that we can offer it to another patient who is waiting to be seen.”
Although private companies are contracted to print letters sent to patients, the hospitals themselves deal with appointments directly – composing all the letters and dealing with all phone calls and other communications.
Each hospital department is responsible for its own appointments.
Any patient missing an appointment gets a letter informing them of the fact, with a duplicate going to their GP.
If there are persistent issues, the hospital can refuse to make appointments with a patient until their GP makes a new referral for them.
While people failing to turn up accounts for more than 100,000 appointments per year being missed, nearly 250,000 a year are cancelled by the hospital.
Leicester General Hospital (Image: Will Johnston)
Figures released in early December revealed that one in six appointments was moved or cancelled in recent months – the equivalent of 684 per day.
However, that figure includes appointments that are just altered by a few minutes or cases where a patient is sent to a different clinician than the one due to see them.
In other cases, the cancellations happen because the appointment was no longer deemed necessary.
Leicester South MP and shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said: “People may have good reasons for missing appointments but obviously they are appointments other people could have.
“Our NHS is under huge strain because of underfunding, so it’s always important to let the hospital know when you can’t make an appointment.”