According to a leaked email that has been seen by Southend News Network, there are currently plans in place for outpatient clinics across the UK to start rolling out a system of mumbling the names of patients who are waiting for appointments – research in this area has shown that this leads to an overall decrease in clinic waiting times. A trial in an undisclosed Essex hospital been a complete success, and it is hoped that other hospitals around the country will soon reap the benefits of this new system.
A senior government health minister spoke to the Chief Reporter, and he said: ‘The problem with modern systems that have screens and loudspeakers is that everyone hears when their name is called, and some of these readouts also include an approximate waiting time – this means that nearly all patients remain in the waiting area until it is time to see a specialist. When we conducted tests in Essex, we noticed that around 30% of outpatient visitors were unable to hear their name being called when the member of staff mumbled their name very softly and incoherently, and so their appointments were effectively ‘missed.’ The benefit of this situation is that the specialist can immediately move on to the next person on the list, and roughly 3 in every 5 patients were able to recognise when it was their turn to be seen. With so many patients giving up and going home, everyone who actually stayed was seen far quicker, and officially those who gave up were classed as ‘walkouts’ when we put all of the statistics together.’
In a separate January trial, another unnamed Essex hospital was chosen for a ‘unique’ pilot scheme where 500 outpatient appointment letters were sent out with a map of fictional Game of Thrones setting Westeros on them – this replaced the usual illustration showing how each medical department can be found. According to the results of this scheme, approximately 217 affected patients missed their appointments altogether, and those who decided to look at other maps instead were seen in record time.
We asked a number of local hospitals for a comment about this story, but none of them were prepared to discuss the matter with us. A source within the local government in Basildon was willing to give us a brief statement, and he said: ‘We cannot speculate about any current schemes that the local health authority has in place designed to reduce hospital waiting times – all that we are responsible for is ensuring that patients can use the surrounding transport networks to reach Basildon Hospital as quickly as possible. We do currently have an emergency plan in place for situations where Basildon Hospital is overwhelmed by demand, and this involves electronically adjusting all road signs to ensure that hospital visitors end up in the middle of Corringham.’