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Thousands of appointments lost due to patients not turning up

Lerwick's Gilbert Bain Hospital.

OVER 2,800 hospital and specialist appointments were lost in Shetland last year due to patients not turning up.

The figure, obtained through a freedom of information request, principally relates to appointments at Lerwick’s Gilbert Bain Hospital, although it also includes some secondary care appointments at the town’s health centre in areas like podiatry and mental health.

There were also 4,595 cancelled appointments, while 35,863 secondary care appointments were attended in total in 2017/18.

NHS Shetland chief executive Ralph Roberts said the figures highlight that if people cannot make their appointment then they should let staff know.

Numbers of ‘did not attend’ or cancelled primary care appointments at Shetland’s health centres were not available.

Secondary care generally relates to hospitals and specialists while primary care is people’s first point of contact, like GPs and dentists.

The figures for 2017/18 also include a small number of secondary care appointments where clinicians saw patients at home or in a care centre.

They also do not include some services – including occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, Macmillan and some mental health workstreams – as they do not use the hospital’s patient administration system.

The total number of cancellations include ones at the request of both the patient and the health board.

“Every time a patient fails to attend for an appointment this is a lost opportunity for us to offer that appointment to another patient,” Roberts said.

“We would therefore ask that all patients do make every effort to attend. We understand that there will be reasons why a patient will not sometimes be able to attend and we would ask that they make sure they let us know so that the appointment can be offered to some else.”