Appointment cancellations need scrutiny, says Carrick MP

editorial image

SCRUTINISING the large number of cancelled outpatient appointments by NHS Ayrshire and Arran is absolutely vital, Carrick MP Sandra Osborne has said.

A freedom of information request revealed this month that more than 105,000 appointments were cancelled or rescheduled by NHSAAA between June last year and August 2012 - a figure that Mrs Osborne has condemned as unacceptable.

Health service executives have been keen to quash rumours that the high number of cancelled appointments is a result of a malfunctioning patient management system, the latest in a string of which was introduced in June 2011.

But Mrs Osborne has dismissed explanations putting the figures down to emergency leave, study leave and on-call cover. “These are surely factors which should be built in to the system,” she said.

“It is very upsetting for people who are built up for the ordeal of a medical appointment only for it to be cancelled. We expect better from our health service.”

She added: “It is absolutely vital that this situation is brought into the light and scrutinised in an open and transparent way so we can all understand how this situation has come to the fore and how it can be avoided in future.”

John Burns, NHSAAA’s chief executive, reassured patients and partners that NHS at local level is focused on delivering safe, effective care centred round the needs of individual patients.

“I know there are areas where we need to improve, and that staff across Ayrshire and Arran are committed to providing the best possible services,” he said.

“I accept that NHS Ayrshire & Arran cancels and/or reschedules too many appointments, and this is not the kind of person-centred care the people of Ayrshire and Arran deserve.”

He said NHSAAA has embarked on a programme to improve and develop the delivery of outpatient services.