Bradford group for visually impaired calls for changes to hospital appointment notifications (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Bradford group for visually impaired calls for changes to hospital appointment notifications
A Bradford support group for blind and visually-impaired people is urging hospital bosses to find better ways of sending out appointment details to try to reduce number that are missed.
More than 83,000 hospital appointments were missed by patients across the Bradford district last year, costing the NHS Trust more than £1 million, the Telegraph & Argus revealed.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, the T&A found that 70,430 people failed to turn up for appointments at Bradford Royal Infirmary in 2012.
Now the Bradford Association of Visually Impaired People is taking action to help make sure its members and others with similar conditions are not part of future figures.
Imtiaz Naqvi, 60, who started to lose his sight in 1976, said the group which has regular meetings at the Morley Street Resource Centre in Great Horton is about to call on the trust to give visually-impaired people the choice of how they receive their hospital appointments.
They want people going to GPs for referrals to be asked at that stage if they want their appointments to come in larger print, braille, on a CD, or in text and e-mail via a talk software option on their mobiles.
Mr Naqvi said: “No-one wants to miss appointments but for people who are visually impaired it sometimes happens if they don’t have anyone to read the letters for them when they arrive.
“We think the hospital trust could do with spending a little money on making these appointment options available to us and then they might save some of the money they lose on missed appointments.”
The association is working with health watchdog Healthwatch to make improvements.
In a bid to halt missed appointments, Bradford Teaching Hospitals has said it is already looking at ways of changing its appointment system by centralising it and giving patients more choice over times.
It is also sending text reminders to outpatients and making use of the ‘choose and book’ system at GPs’ referral surgeries.
“The choose and book system is the perfect time for people to be asked exactly how they want to receive their appointments,” said Mr Naqvi.
The group also wants to see hospital staff such as receptionists given more training how to communicate more effectively with the visually impaired.
“We are happy to help this happen and come and give talks about our experiences and what would help us,” added Mr Naqvi.
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s chief nurse, Juliette Greenwood said: “We are reviewing how we can communicate more effectively with all our patients, including those who are blind or partially sighted, and are acting on the issues which Healthwatch brought to us on behalf of the Bradford Association of Visually Impaired People.
“We welcome the opportunity to work with Healthwatch on this very important agenda have asked them to chair a meeting between ourselves and patient representatives in order to best identify the issues and take action that will improve our service. ”
Any organisations interested, should contact the group on (01274) 481590.
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