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Telephone reminders cut number of missed hospital appointments by third
1:42pm Tuesday 15th October 2013 in Latest News
The number of patients missing outpatient appointments has dropped by 35 per cent since the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust introduced its new telephone reminder service in August.
This equated to 260 appointments in the first week.
The service is now being extended to benefit physiotherapy outpatients.
From tomorrow, patients with physiotherapy outpatient appointments at hospitals, surgeries and health centres across Wiltshire will also get the reminders.
The service is already proving a handy for patients with other outpatient appointments at Swindon's Great Western Hospital and at the Trust’s community hospitals in Wiltshire.
Patients receive a text message or automated telephone call around a week before their appointment, reminding them of the location, date and time of their appointment and asking them to confirm, cancel or rearrange.
The Trust has sent out 21,596 text messages and made 25,433 automated telephone calls since a pilot was launched in April.
As well as being a convenient reminder for patients, the new service aims to reduce the number of missed appointments.
Last year 39,871 patients missed their outpatient appointment, costing the trust more than £4 million. Every missed appointment costs the trust £108 on average.
David Moss, deputy general manager for outpatients, Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I’m really pleased with the result so far. The reminders seem to making a real difference. I hope that patients find the service helpful and it makes it easier to cancel or rearrange. If we know a patient won’t be attending, we can offer the appointment to someone else.
"By making sure all of our appointments are used, we can see more patients and patients will be seen sooner.
“If we already have your phone number you don’t need to do anything, however if you do not think we have your up-to-date telephone number you can register your number on our website www.gwh.nhs.uk, call the Booking Centre on (01793) 604080 or speak to the receptionist at your next appointment.”
Patients will not be charged for the service, which is easy to use and completely confidential. Patients who use a mobile phone will receive a text, whilst those who use a land line, will receive an automated call. Patients who receive a call will be asked to confirm their date of birth before they hear their appointment details.
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