Health bosses are hoping to cut waiting times for hospital appointments in Doncaster through a new high tech bookings system.
A system has been rolled out that will allow GPs surgeries to book the appointments electronically for the first time rather than having to go through an old fashioned postal system.
The new system to arrange outpatient consultations or treatment is being introduced across the borough this month.
Bentley GP, and chairman of the Doncaster NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr David Crichton, said: “Traditionally, I would have had to write a letter to the consultant, which would go to their secretary, who would arrange the appointment.
“It is hard to quantify how much quicker the new system will be, but it will be a shorter wait.
“This will mean the GP practice will be able to go onto the computer, admin staff can look at the diary, and give the patient an appointment there and then.”
But he acknowledged that there may be times when appointments had to be deferred to the provider if there was a spike in demand for a particular type of appointment.
For instance, there has recently been a spike in demand for referrals to rheumatology, involving inflamed joints.
Officials also hope that the new system will help reduce the number of missed appointments in the hospital.
“Evidence would suggest that if you get appointments back electronically, you get a fall in missed appointments,” said Dr Crichton.
Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals trust lost almost £3.5 million this year due to thousands of patients not turning up to appointments, figures show.
Data from NHS England shows that, between January and June, 27,264 people either did not show up for an outpatient appointment at the trust, or arrived too late to be seen.
With the NHS struggling for funds amid budget cuts and increased demand, the British Medical Association said it was crucial appointments are not wasted while the health service is "under incredible stress".
The average outpatient appointment costs the NHS £120, according to the latest resources cost data.