Saxilby practice’s new service to cancel appointments
A Lincolnshire GP practice has launched a new service in an attempt to minimise the amount of missed appointments.
Trent Valley Surgery, in Saxilby, has introduced the new text message service which allows patients to cancel any unwanted or unneeded GP appointments they may have booked.
It comes as NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group said missed appointments were costing the health system in the region of almost £1.5 million.
Patients at Trent Valley Surgery who are signed up to their text messaging service and no longer require their appointment will be able to text the word “CANCEL” to a dedicated number in order to cancel their slot.
Lucy Holland-Hancock, IT & Data at Trent Valley Surgery, said: “This system means we can contact patients immediately without having to use up staff time making phone calls or writing letters.
“The patient can actually respond to us purely by using their mobile phone which for many makes things easier.
“The text messaging system means even if it is the day before a patient’s appointment, they can easily and quickly cancel it without having to try and call the practice at 8am that morning.
“Our system is designed to automatically detect these cancellations, enabling them to be offered to other patients, while updating the patient’s records to ensure it does not show up as a DNA.
“Patients are responding well to the new system and are already using it. In June to date, we have had about 20 people responding to cancel an appointment.”
Trent Valley Surgery saw 139 appointments missed in the last three months.
Paula Bacon, practice manager, said: “Our figures show that the highest number of DNAs are for the nursing team, which is likely because a patient can book three months in advance for a nurse.
“This system will give patients the opportunity to cancel their appointment easily, especially those who may be at work.
“Although the average DNA rate is fairly small at this practice, it still has a knock-on effect for the availability of appointments at the surgery.
“This is particularly true in the current challenging climate.
“On average, we lose at least 10 appointments per week to DNAs, which equates to 1 hour and 40 minutes of lost time and appointments. We hope this new system improves this rate.”
Previous research by Lincolnshire West CCG showed one practice losing £3,720 in a single month after patients failed to turn up to their pre-booked GP or nurse appointments.
Meanwhile, a practice in Gainsborough had 198 appointments missed in the same period of time.
Sarah-Jane Mills, chief operating officer at NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Missed appointments are one of the biggest factors when it comes to strain on the NHS.
“Not only does it waste the valuable time of clinicians, unused appointments prevent those patients who genuinely need to see a medical professional from being able to use that slot.
“DNAs also cost the health system a huge amount of money so it is important that people remember to cancel any unwanted appointments.
“The system introduced by Trent Valley Surgery is simple to make use of and hopefully very effective. I would encourage as many of their patients as possible to sign up to the service and make use of it when needed.”