Don’t waste your space, says Mercer

A DROMORE councillor has urged residents to make sure they remember their dates after it was revealed that 40,000 outpatient appointments were not attended by patients in 2010 in hospitals and clinics across the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area.

The UUP’s Olive Mercer was speaking after the Trust appealed to the public to help reduce the number of people who do not attend appointments.

“I would encourage everyone to make a New Year’s resolution to remember if they have to go to hospital,” she said.

“It only takes something as simple as marking a date in your diary or on a calender. Together we can cut the number of missed appointments down.

“A missed appointment can affect the overall financial and planning implications for the Trust and whilst I understand there are many reasons people cannot attend appointments I would urge everyone to let the Trust know as soon as you can so that your appointment may be given to someone else to use.

“To have one in every eight appointments wasted is a huge source of inefficiency which adds pressure to waiting lists and extends waiting times for all patients.

“There are many reasons why people can’t attend appointments and sometimes it is unavoidable. If you can’t keep your appointment please let us know as soon as you can so that your appointment might be given to somebody else to use.”

Mairead McAlinden, Southern Trust Chief Executive, added, “We are continuously reviewing our appointment processes to find ways to make it easier for people to remember their appointments. More frequent reminders and the use of new technology will be useful in reminding people of the date and time of their appointment.

“We are currently piloting the use of text messages in several services to test if this helps to reduce the number of missed appointments, and we will see over the next few months if this approach is effective.

“By working in partnership with the community I am confident that we can reduce the number of missed appointments and ensure that more money is spent helping those people who need it most. That is why we are saying to people - don’t waste your space!”