Changing the UK’s Health

Sometimes for change to happen it requires a seismic shift in technology or actions, but on other occasions a series of small individual acts can come together to create something special.  That was the idea behind NHS Change day; a time when individuals can make small pledges which could result in significant change for the NHS.

At the time of writing over 450,000 people have made their pledges and with the last pledge date for 2014 still some weeks away the final total is expected to be far higher.  Some pledges are designed to support and strengthen local campaigns whilst others have been made on a far more individual basis.

One national campaign which the NHS is promoting through NHS Change Day is the idea of reducing no-shows.  With 12 million GP and 6.9 million hospital appointments missed in the last year costing a total of £270m, every person who makes an individual pledge not to miss an appointment in future will be saving the NHS money and improving treatment for themselves and others.

In an attempt to cut down on no-shows NHS practices are adopting a range of measures from reminder calls and texts to encouraging direct booking online.  But it is not just health practitioners within the NHS who suffer from missed appointments.  Health practitioners across the board from chiropractors to physiotherapists and from beauticians to counsellors all suffer if a patient fails to attend an appointment.  And in many of these cases it is not just the taxpayer who loses out but the health practitioner themselves, not to mention other patients who could have taken that vacant slot.

So for health practices everywhere, anything which can be done to cut down on no-shows should be done.  Appointment reminders, online booking services, ensuring continuity of telephone answering; all can play their part in working towards a full diary and effective treatments.

The pledges being made for NHS Change day are not just confined to reducing missed appointments.  Challenging culture, enhancing leadership, patient safety, improving skills, the list goes on.  Some of the pledges are from patients, others from those on the front line or back office who are working to improve the NHS from within and without.  From individual pledges to walk more or eat healthily to sharing knowledge and experience with others, the pledges may individually not be earth shattering.  But if enough people see the pledges and join in then health care for all could be the winner.