Outpatient Appointments

Not exactly a rant but I wonder if anyone else has the same suspicions as me? I have a yearly cardio appointment at a hospital in London as a follow up to heart surgery two and a half years ago. They also jointly manage my AF with my GP.

Yesterday, I had a letter cancelling my next appointment in April and rescheduling for July. That's ok with me as I feel quite well. Over the years, I've had a number of appointments at different hospitals (I was born with a heart condition) and though I haven't kept score, the number of rescheduled appointments has been quite high - over 50% I reckon.

Is this a way of fiddling the waiting lists? I know there's a guarantee to see new patients within a certain time, also hospitals have to keep records of operations that they cancel. I'm betting that they don't have to supply information about cancelled outpatient appointments generally. So, either they are cancelling a lot of clinics for whatever reason or else those already in the system are being bumped down the list in favour of new patients who show up on the stats.

11 Replies

  • Yes is the answer to your question. Once you have been given your first appointment within the target timescales you count towards achieving those sometimes rediculous targets. If your appointment gets changed it makes no difference. Follow up appointments are constantly put back because there are too many patients to be seen or the clinic has to be cancelled due to staff being elsewhere - six months ahead is a long time in a consultants diary. If you desperately need to be seen, then contact your consultants secretary. Usual problem - too many patients and not enough staff.

  • It does seem a waste of NHS time and money to book an appointment a year in advance, knowing that there is a fair chance that it will be cancelled and another appointment letter required. Much more sensible to make the appointment three months in advance, which is sufficient notice for most people and would have a reasonable chance of being kept by the hospital.

    I admired the honesty of a consultant who I saw about an eye problem. She said that I needed an operation as soon as possible but added that ASAP was at least two months at that hospital. I waited three months for an operation date by which time the problem had cleared up and so the operation wasn't needed at all!

  • My local hospital won't make appointments longer than three months. I see oncology every six months now and they send me a letter about three months before.

  • My understanding is that they always overbook ALL O P appointments so that when people cancel which some do they still have a full list. I once had a letter two days before after I had already bought my train ticket saying the EP was on holiday so I rang his secretary to complain only to find he wasn't and would see me after all. I always feel one needs to be proactive in such matters.


  • I am not really worried about the date of the appointment as I feel quite well and there isn't anything I particularly want to discuss. The same hospital once forgot to book me a cardioversion that I should have had 6 weeks after my operation and only arranged it when I reminded them.

  • Having worked for years in OPD, we would never dare overbook a clinic unless the Consultant authorised it! The no shows were usually very welcome as most clinics would overrun because some patients needed more time than others. Many a time our morning clinic would still be running when the afternoon clinic was due to start! The main thing was that our patients had as much time with their doctor as necessary. Happy days!

  • Most of my appointments get changed. Not had many that haven't been. Last time I had an appointment to have a monitor fitted, and an appointment to see the EP to discuss the results. Problems was that the fitting of the monitor was scheduled for the day after seeing the EP ;-) , so as Bob says, you need to be proactive.

    Don't know the fiddling of the stats, but all I can say is our hospital EP dept is always very, very busy, it's like Paddington Station.


  • why should you need to be proactive !!?

    answer is simple, get the people in charge to get their fingers out, they are all paid enough to expect that as a minimum

  • Is your appointment with the Heart hospital as I know they are moving to the Barts around March time and could be the reason for the change?

  • St Thomas's, Kiwi.

    My main point is, if they are changing a huge number of appointments because they book them too far in advance of a realistic expectation that they won't be altered, how much is it costing the NHS and the taxpayer in administrative time, postage and stationery?

  • I don't know the answer but it does seem to be a waste of resource, time and money using the current admin system for making appointments.

    I have had a number of appointments cancelled in the past. At the moment, I am waiting for an appointment to ' settle' at a gastro clinic - 1st appointment - and so far it has been cancelled 4 times!

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