I was talking to a group of Sisters, not family members you understand but the angelic group of experts who manage our wards and clinics, about ways of improving our inpatients’ experience. We talked a lot about communications, did we give enough information before patients arrived, did we give them enough when they left, did we cancel their appointment and did we make them wait, perhaps without an explanation, when they did turn up. All very important questions and ones that I know patients have raised. However, we are improving our ratings for inpatient experience year-on-year but we are starting from a low position and being middle of the pack compared to other Trusts is just not good enough! We will continue work with patient groups and staff to continue improvements.

One of the things that also emerged during our conversation was that there are a number of patients who do not attend their appointments - known in the trade as DNA’s – particularly in outpatients. Why is this? Why do people, some of whom ask for these appointments themselves, not show up? are the patient experience factors we were talking about earlier part of the problem? Or is it that people think simply not turning up and not making the effort to contact the hospital is ok, because nurses and doctors are faceless public servants who don’t demand the normal courtesies of life. Of course it is all of the above – and most people do treat staff with respect. We live complex lives with many demands on our time. But, not turning up at hospital does impact on others e.g. appointments we could not make for other patients and we do need to try and minimise DNA’s. One suggestion is that we charge people, like dentists, for missed appointments. I can see many reasons why that would be difficult to implement but it is a reasonable thought. Would you support a charging regime for non-attendees?