REVEALED: Thousands of wasted appointments at Sheffield hospitals putting pressure on NHS services

Kirsten Major.
Kirsten Major.

Tens of thousands of patients failed to turn up for hospital appointments in Sheffield last year - wasting time and money for overstretched NHS services.

Figures revealed people did not attend 85, 000 outpatient appointments at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust between April 2017 and March 2018.

Sheffield's Northern General Hospital.

Sheffield's Northern General Hospital.

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Hospital chiefs said they could not say how much the missed appointments cost exactly but each one left the NHS out of pocket and also wasted the time of busy staff.

The 85, 000 missed appointments were out of 1.2 million appointments in total, which represents 7.1 per cent of all outpatients.

Last year's figures are slightly better than the 2016/17 financial year in which there were 100, 685 missed appointments.

The Trust, which runs the Northern General, Royal Hallamshire, Weston Park Cancer Hospital, Jessop Maternity Wing and Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, urged patients to contact them to rearrange slots if circumstances change.

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Kirsten Major, deputy chief executive at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We understand that circumstances sometimes change and people may not be able to attend their appointment, but we would always rather re-arrange the appointment over someone not turning up.

"If we know in advance we can use the appointment slot and staff time to see another patient who is in need of our care and treatment.

"Patients can cancel their appointment via our text reminder messages and can ring the number on their appointment letter.

"We almost always manage to re-book an appointment slot with another patient and use valuable clinical time to see patients in need of care.”

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In January, the NHS revealed that almost £1 billion is being wasted annually across the country by patients missing appointments.

Health chiefs said almost eight million hospital outpatient appointments were missed nationwide in 2016/17.

Prof Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, said the money wasted could fund about a million more cataract operations or 250, 000 hip replacements.

She added: "With the NHS coming under pressure as never before, we are asking patients and the public to use the health service responsibly to help ensure that care is readily available for everyone who needs it."