Patient Reminder Service Extended in Forth Valley

Newly-referred patients to five specialities in NHS Forth Valley are to benefit from a new reminder service to try to reduce the number of people who fail to turn up for their hospital outpatient appointment. The departments are cardiology, ear nose and throat, endocrinology, ophthalmology and pain management and the roll-out follows an earlier trial in gastroenterology, neurology and dermatology which has been very successful.

In some outpatient clinics  the ‘do not attend rate’ has been as high as one in ten patients failing to show up, which not only wastes staff time and resources but can also result in longer waiting times for others.

Under the new system patients will automatically receive a telephone call around seven days before the date of their outpatient appointment. A recorded message will ask patients to confirm they are planning to attend or speak to member of staff if they want to change or cancel their appointment. A local telephone number (01324 566249) will appear on caller display to help avoid any potential confusion with unwanted sales or marketing calls.

The roll-out of the reminder service will enhance the patient-focused booking service already in use which enables patients to arrange an appointment day and time which suits them, rather than being automatically allocated an appointment which they may be unable to keep.

NHS Forth Valley Health Records Services Manager Emma Hamilton said: “The extension of this new reminder system should help reduce the number of people who fail to show up for an appointment because they have either forgotten or they can no longer attend.  Enabling patients to pick a date and appointment time which suits them will also help especially for those with specific work commitments, holidays or transport issues.”

Similar systems are already being used in several other Health Boards in Scotland.