East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust responded to the FOI details with the following statement:
“We always endeavour to keep our outpatient cancellations to an absolute minimum and as part of a fuller review of our outpatient service have introduced a number of initiatives to reduce inconvenience and waiting times if clinics need to be re-booked. These include:
1. Introducing “firebreaks” in clinic booking schedules to allow for cancelled clinics to be re-booked without a lengthy wait for the next available clinic;
2. Adding an extra clinic close to the cancelled clinic date and moving patients to the new clinic;
3. Ensuring, except in exceptional circumstances, the booking of leave is at least eight weeks in advance so we can remove clinics before they are booked. We also remove clinics that will not run due to on call, and audit as soon as we are aware of the dates;
4. If we need to cancel a clinic and patients are already booked into it, we review rotas to try to cover the clinic first to avoid the cancellation;
5. Monthly waiting list meetings to monitor performance including the number of clinic cancellations.”
He added: “Community paediatric clinic schedules are more refined now and we arrange appointments to avoid cancellations, which may have happened in the past, such as to accommodate child protection cases.” More than 20,000 patients had multiple appointments cancelled at the William Harvey Hospital within a three-year period.
Appointments were cancelled in the majority of the hospital’s departments with a staggering 120,746 scrubbed in total between April 2011 and March 2014.
This equates to 13.34% of all the appointments scheduled during those 36 months.
Of the 22,175 people who had more than one appointment axed, the average number of hospital visits each patients missed out on was 2.44.
The disappointed ill and injured people were 9,588 men and 12,587 women. availability on the day or at short notice, or endoscopists unavailable due to sickness, ward issues, or locum availability.
He said they reschedule patients to a new clinic within the shortest period possible.
High performing departments, where no appointments were scrapped during the time period, included paediatric diabetic medicine and nurse-led chemotherapy.
Endocrinology – a branch of medicine that deals with hormones – was one department that demonstrated an improvement over the period with an average of 29.93% of appointments cancelled in the first 12 months dropping to 21.87% in the final 12 months.
The trust stressed that some of the cancellations may have happened before patients were aware they had been allocated an appointment, for example if a clinic was cancelled.
As well as being the main hospital for residents in Ashford, Folkestone, Tenterden and the surrounding areas, the William Harvey is visited by patients from the Canterbury district, Dover and Faversham as well as other parts of Kent.
The Kent and Canterbury Hospital, which is run by the same trust, had 136,649 appointments cancelled during the three-year period – 13.52% of the total booked – and patients who were subject to multiple appointment cancellations lost out on an average 2.46 meetings.
As we reported a fortnight ago the William Harvey was branded as “inadequate” in a report by Care Quality Commission inspectors, who called for it to be put into ‘special measures’ to ensure improvements.
The William Harvey hospital