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Missed Appointments costing Health Service £11 million a year

19 April, 2007

Sinn Féin Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd, the Chair of the Assembly Public Accounts Committee designate has said that Audit Office Report into 'Missed Appointments and Cancelled Clinics' from the Comptroller and Auditor General graphically highlights the costs of missed appointments.

Mr O'Dowd, who was previously the Sinn Fein Health Spokesperson, said:

"While there has been good progress in tackling waiting lists and there are new targets the fact that some 300,000 appointments are missed or 'not seen' is a cause of great concern.

"The appointments missed are cancelled by the Hospital or because people have cancelled their own appointment or they simply did not turn up. This is costing the Health service £11 million a year.

"This is a staggering situation and even then this report only covers consultant led outpatient clinics and does not include clinics run by of health professions, which account for 50% of all clinics.

" While the department is attempting to address the problem through both Partial Booking and Integrated Clinical Assessment and Treatment Services (that aims to ensure referrals to the most appropriate healthcare professionals). The Department and the new Trusts must learn from best practice which already exist and closer examine the reasons why patients do not turn up.

"One of the most vulnerable section of our society are those people with mental health problems, the figures show that up to 20% of all Mental illnesses appointments are missed. I would call on the Department to work with mental health support and Advocacy groups to see how this figure can be improved.

"While this report concentrates on the Financial implications of missed appointments we need to recognise that we are not just talking about £11 million that could be put to better use we are also talking about possible serious health issues for patients who are missing appointments."

Concluding Mr O'Dowd said.

"I look forward to my new role as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee and the PAC being in place so as it can play it role in scrutinising and reporting on reports such as today's it is clear we will have a busy time ahead of us." ENDS

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