Hospital no-shows are having a huge impact on health services

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“IF you can’t keep your outpatient appointment, please let us know”.

That’s the message the Northern Trust wants to get across to Larne residents, who are among the thousands of patients every year who fail to keep appointments at the trust’s hospitals, wasting enormous amounts of the health budget and having an impact on waiting times.

Did-not-attend (DNA) figures show that in 2009/2010 20,270 patients failed to turn up for their appointments at a Northern Trust facility.

Did-not-attend (DNA) are patients who fail to turn up for a pre-arranged appointment and have not given prior notice to cancel that appointment. Each month alone around 1,500 people do not attend appointments given to them.

Margaret O’Hagan, assistant director of Acute Hospital Services, said: “It really matters to us, because if you do not let us know that you are unable to attend we can’t re-allocate your appointment to someone else.

“If we know in advance that you can’t attend we could offer your appointment to another patient who is currently on our waiting list.

“The DNA rate impacts directly on how long patients wait to be seen. If such a high proportion of outpatient slots were not lost on patients who do not attend, sometimes repeatedly, waits for first outpatient appointment would reduce.

“It’s really important that you try to attend your hospital appointment. If you have been asked to come and see us at the hospital it is because your doctor thinks you should see a specialist expert about your health and you may need some important treatment.

“If you really can’t make your appointment, please let us know with as much notice as possible by calling the number on your appointment letter.

“Once again I would appeal to patients that if you can’t make your appointment, no longer need it or want to rearrange it, please call the department or telephone number stated on your letter, and inform them that you are not able to make that date.

“Alternatively, if you can’t find the number, call the Northern Trust switchboard on 028 9442 4000 and they will only be too happy to put you through to the right service or department,” she said.