Missing patients may get fine

PATIENTS who fail to turn up to their appointments have cost the James Paget University Hospital more than �6.1 million since April 2009, leading to a call for the introduction of fines for those who do not turn up.

The hospital has been forced to introduce a reminder service to reduce the number of patients failing to turn up to appointments and not notifying them, but the problem is continuing with �1.4 million lost so far this financial year.

The �6,190,852 could have paid the salaries of 61 GPs on �100,000 per year for a year or 309 junior ward nurses on �20,000 per year.

Across the JPH, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and the N&N in Norwich there has been �18,948,733 lost to patients not turning up to appintments since April 2009.

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, said: “The system cannot afford to waste this money on people not turning up.

“People have to understand that it is costing the system dear and when there is only a limited amount of money available it means cutbacks on care and you’re wasting money that could go on care for other patients.”

He said: “If I miss an appointment as I’ve forgotten about it I feel I should make a payment for that and it should be considered if we can’t get the totals down.”

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The NHS estimates a typical new outpatient appointment costs the service �157 and a typical follow-up appointment costs the NHS �112, and every no show wastes clinicians’ time and public money that could be spent on healthcare.

So far this year there have been 3,802 missed new appointments and 7,664 missed follow-up appointments at the JPH.

The percentage of appointments missed so far this year is about 9.14pc at the JPH based on an average annual appointments total that was provided.

The amount of money lost to missing patients at the JPH rose from �2,294,867 in 2009-10 to �2,440,703 in 2010-11 and now the hospital is piloting a scheme to curb this trend.