A hospital appointment date arrives in the post. Along with the letter is a leaflet pleading, ‘Don’t be a DNA!’ It turns out that ‘a DNA is someone who Did Not Attend hospital for an appointment and did not advise us beforehand. The clinic was ready, the staff were ready, but the patient was a DNA. Last year, this hospital had 56,618 DNA’s.’
Wait a minute – over fifty-six thousand people who didn’t bother to turn up for their appointments, in a single year – that’s over a thousand people every week! A hundred and fifty-five people every day who don’t turn up or call to say they’re not coming, just at one hospital! And yet most of those must be people who went to their doctors because they were worried about something. They can’t all be people who were automatically enrolled in some national screening programme and sent appointments that didn’t interest them. Think of the numbers of DNAs when multiplied across the whole country! When you know people who really depend on the immediate availability of medical care (see previous post) it’s infuriating to think of so much hospital time being wasted by people who don’t turn up.