We can’t treat an empty seat, say Northern Trust

THOUSANDS of patients every year are failing to keep their outpatient appointments at hospitals within the Northern Trust, wasting enormous amounts of the health budget and having an impact on waiting times.

The Northern Trust is appealing to patients to let them know if they cannot attend their outpatient appointment. 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 do not attend 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. It’s your appointment. Please take care to be there.”