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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > 650 more patients now keep their appointments

650 more patients now keep their appointments

Posted on Wednesday 8th February 2012

The Outpatients Reception at the Cumberland Infirmary

A telephone reminder service introduced over the past year to reduce missed hospital appointments at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven has been a resounding success.

Now there are now 650 fewer appointments missed each month saving the Trust many thousands of pounds in lost income.

The Trust is now to start a six-week pilot to extend the reminder service to general surgery; orthopaedics; ear, nose and throat, oral surgery and urology day cases at the Cumberland Infirmary initially. This will start on Monday 13 February.

If this pilot also proves to be successful, the Trust will consider rolling out the reminder service to other elective (planned surgery) admissions at both the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital.

Five days before their admission for day surgery, patients due at the Cumberland Infirmary will be contacted by telephone when they will be able to talk to an operator to confirm their attendance. This will not be an automated telephone call.

Patients will be contacted using the telephone number they have provided to the hospital so it is vitally important that contact details are kept up-to-date. This can be done during any visit to the hospital.

If patients have queries about the reminder service, they can call 01946 523049 and they also have the choice to opt-out.

The reason the reminders are made a number of days in advance is this will give the hospital time to offer any day case appointments which are cancelled to other patients and prevent these expensive theatre slots being wasted.

The Trust first introduced the telephone reminder service in November 2010 and this has been running with all outpatient appointments at both hospitals.

Since then, there have been 650 fewer appointments missed each month saving the Trust many thousands of pounds in lost income.

A survey of 102 patients involved in the initial outpatients trial showed a very positive response, with 90% saying they thought the telephone messages were a good idea and 88% saying they found the reminder clear and easy to understand.

Louise Corlett, Divisional General Manager for Surgery, said:“It can be really easy to forget about a hospital appointment, or to not get around to changing an appointment if you cannot attend. This new telephone service reminds patients who may have forgotten and makes it easier for patients who wish to cancel their appointment to do so.

“Every year thousands of appointments at our hospitals are wasted when patients don’t attend. We are making real strides with this reminder service which means we are saving on our costs.”