Missed appointments cost Sheffield hospitals £12 million in one year

Hospitals in Sheffield lost more than £12 million in just one year after thousands of patients failed to turn up for their appointments, data from NHS England shows.

Monday, 14th January 2019, 4:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 2:32 am
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Sheffield Teaching Hospitals lost more than £10 million in the 12 months to September 2018 after more than 85,000 people either did not show up for an outpatient appointment or arrived too late to be seen, while at Sheffield Children's Hospital, the trust lost almost £2.5 million after almost 20,000 people failed show up at the correct time.

According to the latest data, the average outpatient appointment costs the NHS £120, meaning the 85,844 missed sessions at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals '“ or 8 per cent of the total number of appointments '“ cost the trust around £10.3 million.

At Sheffield Children's Hospital, the 19,799 missed sessions '“ or 12 per cent of the total number of appointments '“ cost the service around £2.38 million.

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Michael Harper, chief operating officer at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: 'We recognise that circumstances do sometimes change and there are occasions when people may not be able to attend their appointment.

'However, if we are notified we can either rearrange the appointment or use the appointment for another patient. We also take every opportunity to remind people about their appointment using letters, telephone and text message reminders.

'Almost all GPs also now use our electronic referral system which enables patients to choose a preferred appointment slot whilst they are in the GP surgery or when they get home, we are hoping this will also reduce the number of missed appointments.'

Sally Shearer, director of nursing and quality at Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust, said: "It's really important that parents and carers do whatever they can to bring children to hospital appointments.

'Children under the care of the hospital are here for specialist treatment and missing appointments could endanger their health, or cause delays in their treatment.

"However, we understand that sometimes it may not be possible to attend an appointment and in those circumstances we want to encourage parents to let us know, so we can pass appointments onto other families who are waiting.

'We've made it even easier for people to change their appointments by extending our contact centre opening hours - all we ask is four days notice.

"Teams across Sheffield Children's are working together to make sure families get reminder texts, clinic appointments closer to home, and that letters are sent to the right address.

'We're doing everything we can to make sure parents bring children to appointments, including a public information campaign which we'll be beginning next month.'

Across England's health providers, more than 5.8 million appointments were missed in the year to September 2018, costing the NHS around £700 million.