Appointment anomalies

SIR - Re the front page article Patients who don t turn up (15 September) and the letter in the following issue. The claim that this has cost the Healthcare Trust �709 000 is, to use your word, staggering. It reminds me of the claim by a local author

SIR - Re the front page article "Patients who don't turn up" (15 September) and the letter in the following issue.

The claim that this has cost the Healthcare Trust �709 000 is, to use your word, staggering. It reminds me of the claim by a local authority (not here) that they weren't going to upgrade a public toilet because it would cost too much. The sum quoted was enough to buy a plot of land and build a couple of good quality detached houses on it.

It does make you wonder what accounting methods are used when public bodies make these outlandish claims. What costs do they factor into the equation? It's a situation faced by any private organisation when it quotes for work or tries to work out the value of extras. It has to balance the costs of recovering all overheads or paying for staff to be idle because the quote was too expensive.

An extreme example of this principle at work would be to work out how much it would cost to send the office junior to the canteen or shop to buy snacks. Do you include the cost of his wages while he is away from his post; the cost of his shoe leather; the cost of the electricity used to illuminate the corridor he walked through; a proportion of the organisation overheads including multiple layers of admin staff while he is away? Or do you take the sensible view and say we're paying him anyway, so we've not lost anything - in fact we've saved by not disrupting the work of the entire department by sending them all out to buy their own?


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Like Stewart Makeig-Jones, I also have a couple of stories about appointment anomalies. During a diabetic review at my doctor's surgery, I was told they had a received a letter from NDDH saying I had missed an appointment. It was totally untrue - the arrangement made at the end of my previous visit to the hospital was that with the service provided by my GP I didn't see the need for another one. It was agreed that if I changed my mind I could phone and make an appointment.

Not long ago I received a phone call from the hospital "Just checking to see if you are still coming for your scan tonight?" What appointment? While I knew that a scan had been requested, I hadn't received a notification of a date and time. Fortunately I was able to get to the hospital in time.

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Could it be that some or many of the patients who didn't turn up didn't do so because they didn't know they had an appointment? I'm not the only person around here who has failed to receive post in recent months.

Tony Olsson, Ilfracombe.

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