One in 10 patients at west Herts hospitals are no-shows

Data was presented to West Herts Hospitals Trust bosses

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 9:10 am
Updated Thursday, 14th October 2021, 9:12 am

One in 10 patients are failing to attend their outpatient appointments at west Hertfordshire hospitals, it has emerged.

According to data presented to West Herts Hospitals Trust bosses, just over 10 per cent of out-patients did not attend their appointments in August.

And, suggests the data, it’s been a similar picture since April, with a monthly average of no-shows running at nine per cent.

One in 10 patients at west Herts hospitals are no-shows, latest data reveals

Every missed appointment impacts on waiting lists – which are already at record levels.

And after the meeting – on Thursday, October 7, – chief operating officer Sally Tucker highlighted the Trust’s use of text alerts and reminder calls, in a bid to cut the number of missed appointments.

To reassure any patients anxious about attending the hospital, she points to measures such as social distancing and one-way systems and the use of PPE.

And where waiting rooms are small, she says patients are asked to remain in their cars before their appointment.

But she says the failure of out-patients to show up to appointments pre-dates the emergence of Covid-19.

“Patients not attending outpatient appointments is an issue which existed before the pandemic and it’s one that affects all trusts,” she said.

“Missed appointments cost the NHS time and money and they are detrimental to other patients, as it extends their time on waiting lists.

“However, we know that people have busy lives so we have processes in place to help patients remember their appointments.”

In addition she says officials at Herts Valleys CCG are also helping by messaging patients to check that they are willing to attend a hospital-based appointment if a GP needs to make a referral.

Meanwhile, latest data presented to the board show that in August the number of patients who have been waiting for treatment for 52 weeks or longer increased to 800.

That’s slightly higher than the 789 recorded in July – but significantly lower than the 1,733 recorded in February (2021).

MEANWHILE, data presented to the board shows that patients are spending in excess of four hours – on average – in Watford General’s Emergency Department.

Nationally targets suggest that the vast majority of patients (95 per cent) should be treated in the Emergency Department within four hours.

But according to data presented to the board in August just 76.1 per cent of patients – three out of four – were treated within the time.

And the average time spent in the department was in excess of four hours.

On average, those patients who went on to be admitted were in the department was 341 minutes – that’s five hours and 41 minutes.

And those who were not admitted the average time spent in the department was 246minutes – four hours and six minutes.

But there were 235 patients during August who had to wait in excess of 12 hours.

The data also shows that ambulance crews faced lengthy waits at the department too.

Hospital targets suggest that 95 per cent of ambulance handovers should be complete within 15 minutes.

But at Watford General in August that was matched in less than one in three cases (29.3 per cent).

On 267 occasions in August – recorded the data – the ‘ambulance turnaround’ took in excess of an hour. And in 415 cases it took between 30 and 60 minutes.

The average handover took 32 minutes – three minutes longer than in July. During August there were 2899 ambulance arrivals recorded.