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Avoid appointment SOS with an SMS

Avoid appointment SOS with an SMS

Appointment reminders by SMS

During the last financial year (15/16) 315,259 people attended this hospital Trust for their outpatient appointments.  A further 27,644 were lost owing to patients not turning up for their appointments.  These are classed as DNAs (Did Not Attends).These missed appointments cost a staggering £4,146,600. To help stop the waste and cut waiting times the hospital is reminding patients about their free text messaging service.  

Sue Cartwright said: “There is a quick and easy way for people to help ensure they never miss another outpatient appointment.  Our text message service lets them know when their next appointment is due. It’s instant, personal and most people carry their phone with them at all times. A text reminder is sent 7 days and 2 days before each appointment. Currently only 22.2% of our patients have a mobile number registered on our system.  Additionally, a high percentage of text message reminders do not reach our patients because we have the wrong mobile number on our records, so they need to check if you aren’t receiving those all-important reminders.”

Patients can register for the text message service or update their mobile number by going to: www.dvh.nhs.uk/contact-or-visit-us/texting/ and completing an online form or by printing off a paper version and bringing it to their next appointment. Alternatively, they can speak to a receptionist when they next attend outpatients or ring the appointments line at Darent Valley Hospital on 01322 428350.  If the line is busy they can leave their name and contact number and the hospital staff will ring back. After registering for the text message service or updating their mobile number, patients can relax knowing that if they do forget they will be reminded.

Susan added: “It is so important for patients to tell the hospital as soon as they know they can’t make, or no longer need, their appointment. By not attending patients risk being removed from the waiting list and going through the whole referral process again.” 

There is an easy way of joining the text messaging service, by going to: www.dvh.nhs.uk/contact-or-visit-us/cancel-or-rebook-an-appointment/ and completing the online form. Alternatively patients can ring the appointments line for:

  • Darent Valley Hospital appointments on 01322 428350 or
  • Queen Mary’s Hospital or Erith District Hospital appointments on 0208 308 3230. 


Details can also be left on the answerphone.  All that is needed is the full name, date of birth, the date of the appointment, patient number (if available) and of course, their mobile contact number. 

By reducing the number of missed appointments the hospital can make the best use of all appointments and significantly shorten waiting times for patients, knowing enough in advance means an appointment slot can be given to someone else, helping them to be seen sooner and saving the NHS a wasted appointment.

When patients next visit the hospital, they can simply register their mobile number or check to ensure the hospital has the correct number.