Missed appointments cost the NHS millions, delay treatment and increase waiting times for all patients.
The Northern Trust has launched a new text messaging service to remind outpatients of their hospital appointments.
Busy lives mean it is easy to forget about a scheduled appointment, but this not only causes a delay for the patient, but is having an impact on the health service. Approximately 1 in 10 people miss their outpatient appointment and have to wait for another appointment.
To help patients remember about their appointments the Northern Trust is rolling out a text messaging reminder service. Margaret O’Hagan, Assistant Director of Acute Hospital Services said, “We understand that in some cases patients have every intention of attending, but simply forget the date. We want to help those patients remember by sending a text message a few days before the date of the appointment.
“Missing the appointment not only has implications for the health service, but may result in referral back to the GP for the patient and a lengthy delay. We would also appeal to patients to let us know if they cannot attend their outpatient appointment so we can re-allocate the appointment to someone else.
“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.
“Patients who have already given a mobile number as method of contact will automatically receive a text message, however if you are unsure, ask at reception for further details. Over the coming months we will be updating all our patients’ contact details to include a mobile phone number.
“Once you receive your text reminder and 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.
“I would appeal to all 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 or on your text message, 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.
“It’s your appointment. Please take care to be there.”