Long waits on Doncaster hospital lines could be contributing to missed appointments

Patients struggling to get through on Doncaster hospital phone lines to try and change their appointments could be contributing to why people miss their slots, a meeting has heard.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 6:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th September 2019, 12:33 pm
Ambulances parked outside Doncaster Royal Infirmary's emergency department
Ambulances parked outside Doncaster Royal Infirmary's emergency department

Councillors, Doncaster Council officers and heads of health services across the borough all attended a health and wellbeing board at Civic Office.

Latest available data shows around 50,000 hospital appointments are missed every year – around 140 each day at an annual cost of £6 million to the taxpayer.

The meeting also heard that Skype and video appointments could be the biggest change to NHS outpatient appointments since its inception

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Text reminders which are now in place were welcomed by health partners and the fact patients are told how much it costs to the public purse if appointments are missed.

But Spotbrough councillor Cynthia Ransome said a large proportion of missed appointments could be put down to people being held on the phone for a prolonged period of time when trying to change their slot.

Doncaster & Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals chief executive Richard Parker said old telecommunication infrastructure didn’t help.

“When people do get through to us, we would obviously rather it not get to that stage where we’re having to apologise to people for them waiting so long.

“It wasn’t being helped by the telephone architecture within the building because the DRI is old and a lot of the things in it is old.

“The biggest change in outpatient appointments I can see in the near future is the use of video and Skype appointments as the technology and access improves.

“Historically, the outpatient model in the NHS hasn’t changed since it began.

“Things like video use cuts out a lot of things and it means patients don’t have to come to hospital.

“People are conscious of the money which is wasted through a missed appointment and that’s something we can tap into and to motivate people not to miss them.”