§ Mr. Jessel
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information he has concerning the amount of time lost by consultants and other specialists in the national health service as a result of patients failing to keep appointments or to give notice that they cannot attend appointments at the appointed time; what assessment he has made of the impact of this practice on waiting lists; and what action he intends to take to remind the public of the contribution they can make to reducing waiting lists.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
Information is not available centrally on time lost by consultants and other specialists as a result of failure by patients to attend appointments. It is regrettable that some patients do not inform hospitals when they know in advance that they cannot keep an appointment. This results in a waste of resources which could be used for the benefit of other patients. We have recently issued guidelines on the management of waiting lists, commissioned from Qa Business Services, to all health authorities in England. These guidelines provide advice on what hospitals should tell patients about their responsibilities as users of the service. All patients should be told to inform the hospital if their circumstances change in any way that might affect their appointment or admission. All hospitals should also regularly validate their waiting lists to weed out the names of patients who, for one reason or another, no longer require treatment. This will help to cut the number of non-attendances.