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No-show patients accused as waiting lists rise again; HEALTH: Missed appointments 'costing millions'.

THOUSANDS of patients are failing to turn up for hospital appointments, costing the NHS millions of pounds and making waiting lists longer, according to Welsh Trusts.

Patients in Wales are being told to accept some of the responsibility for long waits on the NHS as it emerged that at least 200,000 Welsh patients did not turn up for their outpatient appointments last year.

In Gwent last year, 53,023 people missed their appointments and the majority did not telephone the hospital to cancel in order to allow another patient to be seen. Each "Did Not Attend" (DNA) costs the NHS at least pounds 50 which means Gwent NHS Trust has wasted more than pounds 2m in the past 12 months alone.

More than 20,000 patients failed to turn up for appointments at Prince Philip Hospital and West Wales General Hospital in Carmarthenshire last year.

Carmarthenshire NHS Trust has now resorted to sending out flyers with every appointment card encouraging people to cancel in advance if they cannot make it.

The startling figures highlight a growing problem in the NHS on the day that the National Assembly revealed that waiting lists were up for the eighth month in a row.

There are now 207,000 people in Wales waiting for their first appointment with a hospital consultant - an increase of more than 2,000 on last month.

Martin Morris, chief officer of Llanelli Community Health Council, said the "Did Not Attend" figures were disturbing.

"This is a huge waste of NHS resources when waiting lists are such a worrying problem. Patients cannot expect waiting lists to be reduced when they don't do their bit to help."

But a patient from Cardiff, who did not want to be identified, was sceptical about the figures.

He said that he had twice been invited for an orthopaedic appointment when he was away on holiday although he had provided the hospital with his holiday dates.

When he did not turn up he was put down as a "Did Not Attend", he said.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 20, 2001
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