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Outpatients urged to attend appointments

29 March 2012

Outpatients urged to attend appointments

West Coasters are being encouraged to make their outpatient appointments a priority, with patients on appointment waiting lists missing out on moving up the list when others just do not turn up.

Garth Bateup, the DHB’s acting General Manager Hospital Services, says the DHB wants people to attend their appointments if at all possible, or if they can’t, to reschedule or cancel with reasonable notice “but don’t just not turn up”.

“We realise that there are often unavoidable reasons for not being able to attend an appointment, but patients who do not turn up are preventing other patients from getting earlier appointments.

“It could be your father or aunt who is on a waiting list and could have attended the appointment if you had given sufficient notice that you couldn’t attend. But if a person simply doesn’t turn up, we have no chance of offering the appointment to another patient.”

Recreational interests and holidays were among the most common reasons for not attending, and Mr Bateup urged patients to factor-in known dates when making or accepting an outpatients’ appointment.

Last year, of 21,163 new and follow up outpatient appointments (the year to 20 December) roughly 10 per cent, or 2171, were did-not-attends (DNAs).

Part of the problem has been a change, nationally, from patients being provided with a simple appointment card, to a system using a series of letters, which staff say can be confusing for the public.

“We are improving communications and have introduced an 0800 (0800 924826) confirmation line for patients to use.”

There is also a significant waste of resources with DNAs, since staff and specialists are at the appointments and still have to be paid for their time, whether or not patients attend.

In people terms, patients could also be putting their lives, or at the very least their recovery, at risk by not attending as it could be some considerable time before another appointment became available, Mr Bateup said.

“We understand that there are quite legitimate reasons for patients to cancel or re-schedule an appointment but we are urging the public to let us know as early as possible so that we can re-allocate and make the most cost-effective use of our resources.”

ENDS

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