One in seven older patients missing hospital appointments

Older people are not getting enough support when travelling long distances to attend hospital appointments, a new report has claimed.

Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament launched the report today which revealed that almost half of those surveyed experienced difficulty in travelling to hospital appointments during the last two years.

An average of one in seven older people missed an appointment due to problems with transport. This included problems with parking at hospitals and difficulties in using public transport.

Francis Hughes from the NI Pensioners Parliament commented: “Over the last number of years, patients have been expected to travel to specialist clinics in hospitals which may be further away from where they live.

“In theory, this may be a sensible way forward for the health service in Northern Ireland, but in practice it can result in a logistical nightmare for many older patients who can’t drive and who live in areas where public transport is simply not an option.

“Nine out of 10 older people did not receive any information on transport options with their appointment letter. This simply isn’t good enough.

“More information on existing travel schemes must be provided to patients so they can make an informed decision about how best to get to their appointment.”

“Missed appointments are of considerable cost to the health service, and there is clearly a link between missed appointments and a lack of transport options or poor transport links.

“Investment in better transport to hospital appointments and a more considered appointments system are certainly solutions which we believe could reduce the number of missed or cancelled appointments, thereby saving the health service money longer term.”