A NEW and improved text reminder system has been introduced to help patients remember their appointment details.

The scheme is designed to reduce the number of missed appointments.

Last year alone, more than 46,000 people did not attend their appointments across the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB).

In 2018/19 missed appointments - ‘Did Not Attend’s or DNAs’ cost the equivalent of 131 hospital beds, 169 nurses, 884 hip operations, 966 knee operations and 5,643 cataract operations.

The cost of missed appointments over this period came to £6.5m

The improved text reminders will include the first name of the patient, the date, time, speciality (for example, Urology) and location of their appointment. Text reminders will also encourage patients to get in contact if they can no longer attend, or rearrange their appointment by sending a response.

The system has been introduced in response to an Outpatient Services Survey.

Wendy Hughes, project lead for the Hospital Reminder Service, said: “We recently amended our basic 24 hour reminder to be delivered 48 hours prior to a patient’s clinic appointment. This allows additional time to re-utilise a clinic slot if patients were unable to attend and provides further time for patients to make arrangements."

Dr Sakkarai Ambalavanan, Consultant Physician in Respiratory Medicine at Glan Clwyd Hospital, said: “Text messages are a really common way of reminding people about appointments in their everyday lives and this improved service will really benefit our patients.

“Some patients require a number of appointments at a number of sites so having a text message reminding them which hospital they are attending will be really helpful.

“People not turning up for appointments has a real knock on affect and not only delays the treatment for those patients but also delays our clinics and impacts on other patients.

“I would always urge people to get in contact with us as early as possible if they are unable to attend their appointment for any reason. This allows us to rearrange a more suitable date and time for them and we are able to provide the original appointment to someone else.”

To register for the new text reminder service visit: www.bcuhb.nhs.wales/patients-and-visitors/hospital-appointment-reminder-service