"Money could have been wasted due to ambulances not being cancelled"

About: Bristol Eye Hospital / Ophthalmology Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust

(as the patient),

I had an appointment in April. I tried to cancel it and it was re-arranged for a couple of days before as I went into hospital and cancelled it myself.

There was a message on my machine when I got home from Great Western Ambulance Service confirming my appointment on the first date. I tried to call them back but it was the wrong number.

GWAS called me on the day they were originally due to come out to let me know they were setting off. I reckon about £500 would have been wasted if they had come out but I told them it had been cancelled.

Who is responsible for updating them on change of appointment and why wasn’t this done? At a time of cut backs it's so important not to waste money.

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Responses

Response from Operations Manager for PTS, Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Thank you for taking the time to contact us through Patient Opinion. The answer to your question specifically is that in any appointment process the responsibility for avoiding any waste of valuable NHS resources may lie in a number of areas, depending on the circumstances. There may be many reasons why an appointment has to be cancelled but it is nearly always communication that fails between the healthcare establishment and the patient at some point in the process.

In view of this fact and as a result of successful trials within the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire areas Great Western Ambulance Service now operates two forms of communication with patients to try and avoid wasted journeys. This means that if all other communication breaks down then a safety net still exists to enable a rescheduling of ambulance journeys and avoid wasted costs. This is what you experienced when you were called by us on both occasions

We call every patient for whom we have contact details 48 hours before they are due to travel with us and we call this ‘Call to Confirm’. Our ambulance crews then give a courtesy call on the day of travel to give a more accurate estimated time of arrival and once again ensure that the person is travelling. We call this our ‘Crew-Call’.

It appears that this system worked well in your case irrespective of where the failure to cancel your appointment lay. Furthermore as we keep accurate records of the 950 or so journeys we undertake each day we will almost certainly have identified where within the appointment process the failure occurred and addressed this. Unfortunately when any patient doesn’t arrive in clinic (referred to as a DNA) there may be a cost in wasted clinic time but I am unable to comment on whether this was the case in this instance.

May I thank you once again for getting in touch with us through Patient Opinion and providing such valuable feedback on our new scheme.

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