Appointment reminder service launched

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NHS Western Isles has introduced a new patient confirmation service to help to remind patients about their outpatient appointments, to seek to confirm whether or not the patient intends to attend their scheduled appointment, and to reduce the number of people who do not attend appointments.

Launched recently in partnership with NHS24, selected patients will be contacted by telephone eight days in advance of their outpatient appointment. The contact will act as a reminder of the appointment for the patient and will also provide an opportunity for the patient to confirm if they will be unable to attend.

Confirming that a patient is unable to attend their scheduled appointment eight days in advance will enable NHS staff to offer the appointment time to another patient; improving efficiency and reducing the time that patients have to wait.

The same service has been introduced by other Scottish Health Boards and has effectively reduced the number of patients who do not attend for appointments.

NHS Western Isles Patient Services Manager Stephan Smit said: “Around 8.5 per cent of people who are sent outpatient appointments do not attend, and do not let us know they are not going to attend their appointment.

“This means that an appointment time is wasted, that someone else could have potentially made use of. An average of 2,726 patients per year do not attend outpatients appointments in the Western Isles and do not notify us in advance, which equates to over £177,000.

“The new measures should help to improve this situation. We would also urge patients as a matter of course to notify the hospital as soon as they are aware that they will be unable to attend an appointment, so that we can arrange another appointment for them as quickly as possible, and so another patient can be given notice that an appointment time has become available.

“Ultimately, this will reduce waiting times for patients.”

It is also important from each individual patient’s point of view to notify the hospital as soon as they are aware that they are unable to attend an appointment, as a patient could be referred back to their GP (who may have to re-refer the patient) if they do not attend their scheduled appointment and do not notify the hospital of this in advance.

This could significantly affect the amount of time they have to wait for their next appointment.

To make sure that your waiting time is kept as short as possible:

·Contact the hospital as soon as you know you cannot attend an appointment or admission

·Turn up for your appointment or admission at the right time

·Tell hospital staff and your GP if you change your address or phone number

.Let hospital staff know if there are any dates when you know you will not be able to attend, such as holidays