One-in-10 patients are hospital no-shows
Patients could soon be offered a choice of dates for their outpatient hospital appointment as figures show more than one in ten are "no shows".
Figures supplied to Independent Dublin Bay North TD Tommy Broughan have revealed that last year, 891,310 new appointments were offered to patients, however, some 142,154 (nearly 14pc) did not attend on the designated day.
Mr Broughan described it is an "extraordinary number", and said that the issue needs to be tackled by Health Minister Leo Varadkar.
He said that some of the strategies that the HSE have already put in place including text messaging reminder systems and dedicated phone lines are steps in the right direction, but more needs to be done.
"We are continuing to see growing waiting lists, hearing of cancellations of appointments and treatments and a health service, parts of which are still in chaos," Mr Broughan said.
He had sought information from the HSE on the number of patients who failed to turn up at appointments or alert hospitals of their inability to attend.
In its response, the HSE said that while there has been a steady reduction in the number of people who fail to attend since 2011, it said that significant work needs to be done to achieve the UK rate of 7pc.
It said one of the main causes of people failing to attend their appointment has been determined internationally to be the provision of "fixed" appointments to patients that do not suit their personal situation.
"The Irish system typically issues fixed appointments, that is, the hospital decides the date without consultation or negotiation with the patient.
"The outpatient services performance programme is therefore working to move the health system towards the implementation of 'patient focused' booking systems," the HSE said.
It said that these systems, utilised internationally, offer patients appointments no greater than six weeks in advance.
The HSE said that a letter is issued to the patient to indicate that they are due for appointment and the patient then contacts a referral centre to negotiate an appropriate date.
The patient is then offered two choices of date and must be afforded at least three weeks notice, it said.
Meanwhile, consultants receive regular reports on the numbers who fail to attend.