Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Missed hospital appointments cost money.

Another report from BBC Breakfast about how much it is costing hospitals to deal with patients who don't turn up and fail to notify them. My first thought was "How is it costing them anything? The doctor's still going to be there regardless, it's not like a plumber losing time because they turned up and you weren't in"

The report clarified this by stating that when an NHS patient turns up they get money from the government if they don't then they don't, but they still have to pay the doctor. Ergo they're losing money.

Um so where do the Trusts get there money from in the first place? Wouldn't that be the government i.e. we the taxpayer? So as far as I can make out from this report the government pays the Trust to fund the hospital, the doctors and the staff, then when an NHS patient turns up the government pays them more money for seeing them?

So aren't we the taxpayers saving money by not turning up because we're not paying the Trust twice?

Now the only way I can see this being a problem is if the Trust aren't being given enough money to fund everything and are thus relying on the extra income from seeing NHS patients. In other words the Trust is given £500k, but needs £1m to run things and gets £500k extra as a result of seeing NHS patients.

So why don't they get the money up front, all this does is help create a conveyor-belt system whereby each Trust will try to maximise the number of NHS patients it sees to obtain the 'rebate' for each. Now if they're a private hospital and getting money for seeing an NHS patient then sure fine they're losing money, but in theory they should be able to get that money regardless of whether the patient turns up or not because they're a private firm that the government is contracting.

Anyway why am I fussing? Well when you start seeing headlines about how much money we're costing a service expect legislature to be passed to recoup that 'loss'. Also willing to bet that if we turn up, but the hospital is unable to see us we won't get any money for our loss of time because from the point of view of our lords and masters we're valueless.


Dan H said...

You'd think if they were that worried about it they wouldn't keep pulling tricks like telling you the date of the appointment the previous day by post. In fact, they really like to make you miss appointments, because it resets the clock for waiting list size, which is one of the targets that decides how much money they get.

FlipC said...

Ah but telling people that won't allow you to feed the indignation that will allow you to fine people who miss appointments.

Gods I can see the problems laid out before me

"Hi I'm ringing to cancel my appointment"
"Okay, but you still owe us [fine] because you didn't notify us early enough"

"Hi I'm ringing to cancel my appointment and doing so in plenty of time"
"Okay appointment cancelled"
... time passes
"This is a notice that you failed to keep with appointment on [day]"
"But I cancelled that appointment"
"Computer says no"

'But it will only affect those inconsiderate people who can't be bothered to cancel appointments' will be the cry.

Yeah and the Terrorism Act won't be used to stop and search tourists.