Missed appointments costing health services

LOW hospital-acquired infections and fast emergency care were revealed in 2020 key performance indicators released today by Health & Social Care and MSG.

(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29327118)
(Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29327118)

But some waiting time targets were missed, with 31% of inpatient treatment and 28% of outpatient being delayed beyond the period expected in the contract.

There have been four serious ‘never events’ in the last three years and there is an issue with people missing appointments. The KPI document is part of the monitoring of the healthcare contract between Health & Social Care and MSG. This commenced in 2018 and costs about £17m. a year.

HSC medical director Dr Peter Rabey said performance measures provided the public with assurance that services were focussed on quality, safety and patients.

‘Our response in 2020 to the Covid-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the delivery of health and care service, with all aspects of operations impacted to a greater or lesser extent,’ he said.

‘That being said, we should be proud of our performance in 2020. Staff have worked exceptionally hard to reduce backlogs caused by the first lockdown and to find other ways to deliver these essential services.’

One of the problems highlighted was patients cancelling or not attending their appointments at short notice. One area, paediatric, has improved, with 8% not attending appointments. This is better than last year – 10% – and beats the target of 11%. But that still works out at 470 of the 6,039 appointments missed, which are often not filled due to being cancelled at short notice.

The lower rate this year is attributed to people being less likely to go off-island during school holidays. In terms of outpatient numbers, 3,553 of the 70,777 appointments scheduled in 2020 were not attended by the patient.

‘As in previous years, one of the messages that our 2020 data shows us is we still have an issue with missed appointments for both in-patient and out-patient services,’ Dr Rabey said.

‘These missed appointments result in a significant cost and loss of efficiency.

It is important that we ask our community to make sure they let our teams know if they cannot attend an appointment to ensure we use our resources to their best possible impact.’

MSG Chairman Dr Gary Yarwood said 2020 was an exceptionally difficult year, but improvements had been made in many areas.

‘We will continue to analyse the KPI results so that we can focus our attention on the issues and challenges we face and this information, together with the Annual Report for MSG, provides a comprehensive set of information for the public,’ he said.

Despite the lockdown in 2020, of the patients arriving at the emergency department, 89% were discharged or admitted within four hours.

Numbers of hospital acquired infections were very low in 2020. There were five hospital acquired infections recorded from a total of 13,114 admissions. Three of these were inconclusive as to whether they might have already been acquired before admission. They were all categorised as unavoidable. This compares with 17 infections found in 2019.

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