THOUSANDS of patients have missed appointments at a Cork hospital in the past 18 months prompting calls for the HSE to introduce a text alert system.
Information obtained by The Echo through Freedom of Information requests revealed that, in 2018, 979 patients did not attend their day-case appointment at the Mercy University Hospital.
A further 1,223 didn’t attend their outpatient appointment along with another 3,668 who had a return appointment at MUH.
The first half of this year, meanwhile, saw 266 missed day-case appointments at the hospital along with 642 outpatient appointments and 1,605 returns.
The issue of missed appointments was raised early last year after it was revealed almost 480,000 people missed outpatient appointments in 2017 — a year which saw 500,000 people on outpatients waiting lists.
Speaking at the time, Cork senator Colm Burke (FG) called for a nationwide hospital texting system to reduce the amount of missed outpatients appointments across Ireland.
Speaking to The Echo following the release of the MUH figures, Senator Burke reiterated that call.
“A hospital texting system is the only way forward. People have so much going on these days that they can easily miss an appointment. The big issue is when appointments are missed at medical centres which can be so busy and it can be difficult to reschedule appointments and other people are left waiting longer,” he said.
“I’ve heard cases where nine people are due for appointments on one day, but only five show up. That might allow more time for each patient, but it also means that someone else is left waiting longer.
“If a hospital has capacity to see 50 people on a given day and 15 people don’t show up, that means that those 15 will need another appointment while another 15 people, who may have needed it urgently, have also missed out on using that appointment.”
Senator Burke said if the HSE implemented a texting system, it could prevent such missed appointments and ensure that others on waiting lists can take up an offer of a cancelled appointment.
The Cork senator recently questioned the recruitment policies in the Health Service Executive after it was revealed the HSE management workforce has increased by 24% since December 2014.
Frontline staff has increased by just 11% in the same period, according to the latest HSE figures.
“With so many people in management positions, surely someone could be designated to deal with the issue of missed appointments,” said Senator Burke.