Northampton General Hospital tackling £1m of missed appointments with new text message service

20,000 patients failed to turn up to appointments at NGH last year
20,000 patients failed to turn up to appointments at NGH last year

Text messages will be used to remind some Northampton General Hospital patients of appointments from next week.

The system will text patients with details of the date and time for both new and follow-up appointments, prompting them to confirm, cancel or rebook.

Last year missed slots cost the hospital about £1 million.

Deborah Needham, chief operating officer, said: “In 2014, more than 20,000 people missed an appointment - which includes scans, tests and consultations - and didn’t tell us they wouldn’t be attending.

“A missed appointment is a wasted appointment and can lead to longer waiting times for all patients.

“We understand that sometimes, there are genuinely unavoidable circumstances that mean a patient can’t attend, but hopefully this new service will reduce the number of appointments not attended.

“It will also give us an opportunity to offer that appointment to another patient.”

Patients will automatically be included in the new service if NGH holds a telephone number for them.

All hospital outpatients will get text reminders except clinics deemed not appropriate for the service, such as certain women’s and cancer specialities. In these instances staff will contact patients as they do now to confirm appointments.

In addition, the hospital will continue to use telephone calls to remind patients over the age of 75 of an upcoming appointment.