On The Day Cancellations Costing NHS Forth Valley £660,000

Patients who fail to cancel their appointment until the day they are due to attend are costing NHS Forth Valley hundreds of thousands of pounds in rescheduling and denying 600 people a month the opportunity to be treated more quickly. So far this year, 5,500 patients have cancelled at the last minute which equates to a bill of £660,000. The figures have been described as ‘concerning’ by NHS Forth Valley’s Medical Director Andrew Murray.

He said: “Cancelling or moving an appointment on the day is pretty much the same as not turning up as it doesn’t allow us to fill the slot. I appreciate that sometimes there are genuine reasons for not keeping an appointment but, where possible, we would ask people to let us know beforehand. This would give us the chance to reschedule and allow someone else to attend.

“I realise that patients may think they are doing the right thing letting us know they can’t attend that day, but by then it is too late then to contact others who are waiting for treatment.  It’s also important to remember that a last minute cancellation could potentially delay any future treatment.”

NHS Forth Valley has put in place a number of procedures to make it easier for patients to cancel or rearrange their appointments. This includes an appointment telephone reminder system which is now in place for the majority of consultant led outpatient clinics and a text reminder service is due to start shortly. People can also ring the number on their appointment letter or cancel their appointment online by completing a short form on the contact section of NHS Forth Valley’s website (www.nhsforthvalley.com). In addition, a new procedure is being introduced for some specialities where patients who are waiting will be contacted to check that the appointment is still required.

The cost of people cancelling on the day of their appointment is in addition to the £4 million per annum cost for those who simply fail to turn up. Patients who ‘Did Not Attend’ represent around 11% of all outpatient appointments.