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‘No shows’ cost DHB $300K

Emily Norman

[email protected]

Patient no-shows are costing the Wairarapa District Health Board up to $300,000 every year and putting patients at risk.

The situation has been described as “very serious” by the DHB, with one Wairarapa health professional saying over-the-phone medical appointments could be the solution.

About 140 Wairarapa people did not show up to their scheduled appointments last month, leaving Wairarapa DHB members asking if the community was aware of “the dilemma” this presented.

Chief executive Adri Isbister said people may not realise “how very serious” missing an appointment was.

“It’s not just about our time, but about their own health,” she said.

“We need to know what creates the barrier to attending the appointments, as we may be able to offer solutions.”

Whether it comes down to transport problems, anxiety, or a busy schedule, Flora Gilkison of Masterton Medical said the issue was something that needed to be looked at and improved upon.

“At Masterton Medical we get probably five ‘did not attends’ (DNAs) a week,” she said.

“People DNA for a variety of reasons, and it’s right across the country.

“We try to ring those people and say, why haven’t you attended, what can we do to help, things like that.”

Dr Gilkison said one initiative that was being explored by the medical centre was phone triage, a clinical service practiced by licensed medical professionals that involves the safe, appropriate, and timely evaluation of patient symptoms over the phone.

She said the Taranaki DHB had lowered their patient no-shows via this practice.

“While that does take time, it was something that became quite effective there,” she said.

Wairarapa DHB spokeswoman Anna Cardno said more than 60,000 appointments were managed through the DHB each year, most of which (40,000+) were outpatients.

“When people do not turn up for hospital appointments it costs Wairarapa DHB time and money,” she said.

“It is thought to cost the DHB approximately $200-300,000 annually.

“That covers the cost of the specialist engaged to treat the patient and the administrative cost it took to get them there or to re-book the appointment.”

She said patient no-shows were a “lost opportunity because someone else could have had that appointment slot”.

“Missing an appointment may affect the patient’s health. It may also mean being sent back to their GP for another referral and further delay.

“People may have privacy concerns, transportation difficulties, or they do not understand the need for the appointment.

“Some cannot get time off work.

“Whatever the reason it is important to let the hospital department know you cannot come and then someone else can be given an appointment.”


  1. Here’s hoping these people go to the bottom of the list while those still waiting 3 plus months for an appointment can go to the top.

  2. Maybe the people when you ring shouldn’t put people off trying to get a appointment. Or tell them its not necessary to make another appointment or come. No then you just about die because of their opinion on wether it is important or not.

  3. Maybe they should honour the appointment time. i;ve ‘missed’ my appointment because I waited 20mins and was still not seen. Had to be eslewhere, so had to go.

  4. Many of these people die waiting before getting to their appointments others are still trying to find a car park.

Comments are closed.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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