Out-patients: Attendance

Department of Health written question – answered on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of Alistair Burt Alistair Burt Conservative, North East Bedfordshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to decrease the number of people missing hospital appointments.

Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne The Minister of State, Department of Health

Information published by NHS England shows that the proportion of hospital outpatient appointments that were missed by patients has decreased from 10.3% in 2009-10 to 8.9% in 2015-16.

It is the responsibility of National Health Service hospital trusts to make their own arrangements for reducing the number of missed appointments. Intensive Support Teams within NHS Improvement have published an information sheet1 containing a range of initiatives that NHS hospital trusts should consider.

The Department, in conjunction with behavioural scientists at Imperial College, has conducted randomised controlled trials at Barts Hospitals NHS Trust into the content of the most effective text reminder. The results were published in an online academic journal2 in September 2015 and summarised on the Department’s website3 in January 2016.

The NHS e-Referral Service replaced Choose and Book in June 2015. From 2016-17, as well as booking appointments, patients have been able to change or cancel their appointment on a smartphone, tablet or computer.

The NHS Constitution is clear that patients have responsibilities too, including “to keep appointments, or cancel within a reasonable time.”


1 http://www.nhsimas.nhs.uk/fileadmin/Files/IST/NHS_IMAS_IST_Cancellations_and_DNA_s_Information_Sheet__Final__I-26_v1.00.pdf

2 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0137306

3 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reducing-missed-hospital-appointments-using-text-messages

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