'Every no show is a missed opportunity' - Hospital waiting list at 68,000

Sam Higginson, chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: NNUH

Sam Higginson, chief executive of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: NNUH - Credit: Archant

The chief of the region's largest hospital said every no show is a missed opportunity to reduce its now 68,000 long list. 

Sam Higginson spoke at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital board meeting on Wednesday, after reports of patients cancelling appointments last minute. 

At the endoscopy unit, which sees patients for endoscopy, colonoscopy and bowel cancer screenings at the Quadram Insitute, staff have experienced up to 10 out of their 80 treatments cancelled a day.

Joanna Hannam, a non-executive director of the board, said during the bank holiday there had been more cancellations. 

She said: "The problem is they can't just slot people in because people need to self isolate for two days and take their Covid test sometimes that's up to 10 treatments a day being wasted when people cancel at short notice. They did say that had got worse in hot weather which is rather a sad thing to hear about." 

The hospital is currently focusing on patients that require urgent surgery within 28 days, which has more than halved from a waiting list of 1,200 to 547 people waiting longer than four weeks.

Mr Higginson, said there was a major push to get the best out of hospital resources, work with other health care partners and make investments to increase capacity to tackle list numbers seen two decades ago. 

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A board member asked: "Looking at the number of patients on the waiting list, 68,000 and behind each one of those is someone in pain desperate to come into hospitals how are we going to deal with the no shows? 

"There's a real implication that if you do not turn up you're stopping someone coming into hospital that desperately needs this."

Before the pandemic, the hospital operated an SMS text reminder service but still saw three to four percent of people no show.

Mr Higginson said: "Every no show is a missed opportunity for someone else to get treatment in what is a really challenging time."

Chris Cobb, the chief operating officer, said patients were given two opportunities under the national access policy to attend. 

He said: "That access policy has served us well historically and continues to. Quite often there is a whole range of reasons why patients can't attend. It isn't always through choice. 

"If people fail to attend twice we refer them back to their GP. "