PATIENTS at Fairfield Hospital are to benefit from a new service to ensure they do not miss appointments.

Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, will launch an appointment confirmation and reminder service next month.

It is hoped that it will reduce the thousands of appointments each year where patients fail to attend, resulting in delays to the patient’s treatment and increased waiting times for other patients.

Last year, 13 per cent of patients missed appointments at the trust’s outpatient clinics, costing more than £9 million.

Michelle Shiels, from the booking and scheduling department, said: “One of the aims of the new reminder system is to improve the quality of service provided to our patients and enhance the overall patient experience through less cancellations and rescheduling of hospital appointments.

“We know our patients have busy lives and we want to help by reminding them of their appointments with us.

“The new system is an innovative and cost-effective way of tackling missed appointments across our hospitals, which we hope will also reduce the amount of money that missed appointments cost us.”

The service will be available for patients booked to attend any inpatient or day case procedure or for some outpatient clinics It will provide free reminders seven days before an appointment, using either automated telephone messages or calls made by a call centre.

Patients will be reminded of the date, time and hospital, as well as asked whether they will attend, want to cancel or rebook.

They will be asked their date of birth in voice messages and staff will ask a series of questions to confirm their identity before any information is given.

Anyone wishing to opt out of the service can call a dedicated phone number, speak to staff at the appointment or contact the trust’s booking and scheduling team.