The NHS has made good progress over the last year to reduce the number of missed outpatient appointments by over 250,000, against a background of rising demand. Over 800,000 more patients had an appointment last year.
However, during 2011/12 there were still around 5.5 million missed appointments in the NHS. Overall, the NHS carried out nearly 53 million outpatient appointments – meaning more than one in ten appointments were did-not-attends.
The NHS Constitution makes clear that patients have the right to access NHS services, but patients have responsibilities too – it is important to keep appointments, or cancel within a reasonable time. Otherwise, it can jeopardise patients starting treatment within 18 weeks of a referral
Figures for 2011/12 show more than 1.5 million of the missed appointments were for first time outpatients and nearly four million missed appointments were for follow-up treatment or to check-up and monitor patients’ progress.
Local NHS organisations make their own arrangements for preventing and dealing with missed appointments and successful initiatives such as text messages to remind patients are on the rise.