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DUP MP Carla Lockhart has urged the public to help protect our NHS, by ensuring hospital appointments are kept or cancellations made in a timely manner to allow others to be seen. In a letter to the Upper Bann MP, Health Minister Robin Swann MLA confirmed that the number of new and review outpatient appointments which the patient did not attend and did not inform the hospital of their intention to not attend has risen from 126393 in 2016/17 to 132288 in 2018/19.

Commenting, Carla Lockhart said:

“These are startling statistics. In 2018/19, 132,288 appointments have been lost across Northern Ireland because of people failing to turn up and failing to notify the hospital they would not attend. That represents around 360 appointments per day where our healthcare workers are not being fully utilised. Time and resources are being wasted.

The last few months has highlighted just how invaluable our health service is. The pressures on the system posed by COVID-19 have been withstood heroically, but now we look to contain COVID-19 while also re-opening our health service. We need to tackle waiting lists and restart much needed treatments across the system. If we are to do that as efficiently and as effectively as possible, we need to public to respect our health service and medical staff, by attending appointments or having the courtesy to get in touch if attendance is not possible. Others can then take that place and the backlog of treatments worked through more quickly.

We cannot continue with this wasting of time and invaluable resources. I really do urge the public to play their part in the health services restart. If this increasing trend continues, other penalties will have to be explored for repeat offenders.”