MORE than 62,000 people failed to keep out-patient appointments at nine hospitals in Cork and Kerry last year, according to figures released by the HSE.
The figures, which were acquired from a Dáil question by Cork South Central TD Michael McGrath, show 45,354 of the ‘no shows’ were accounted for by people who were making a return visit as an out-patient, while 16,861 were people scheduled to attend for the first time.
Overall, the figures show that almost one in seven people scheduled to make a return visit did not attend.
One in six, or 17.2%, of people due to attend for the first time did not show up either.
The highest ‘no show’ figures were at Cork University Hospital (CUH).
A total of 5,125 patients failed to attend for their first appointment there, while a further 18,800 return patients did not attend.
Mr McGrath said it was estimated that cost CUH around €2 million.
In the Cork University Maternity Hospital, 3,050 patients did not appear at their first appointment and 3,016 didn’t attend follow-up appointments.
Other hospitals also suffered from non-attendance.
At the Mercy University Hospital 1,696 first-time appointments were missed, while 4,846 return appointments were also not kept.
The South Infirmary/Victoria University Hospital had 2,892 first time patients who failed to show up and a further 7,126 return patients who did not attend.
There were 1,909 people who didn’t attend first appointments at Kerry General Hospital in Tralee and 6,716 who missed second visits.
At Bantry General Hospital 345 people missed first appointments and 1,806 second appointments.
Deputy McGrath said he was genuinely shocked at the level of non-attendance in the hospitals.
“Clearly this is an issue the HSE will have to address. The bottom line is that every ‘no show’ by a patient is costing these hospitals and our health service vital resources,” Deputy McGrath said.
He said it wasn’t clear whether the high figures were as a result of poor administration, or whether people genuinely forget about the appointment.
“In the case of the CUH, it’s estimated that the average cost to the hospital for each ‘no show’ is approximately €86. Given that 23,925 patients failed to attend for their appointments that means that over €2 million was wasted,” the deputy added.
He pointed out that a number of the hospitals are implementing initiatives to reduce missed appointments.
“It is essential that an efficient appointments system is put in place which minimises the number of wasted appointments in our hospital system. Resources are scarce enough in our health service without spending precious time and money on empty appointments,” he added.
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