NHS Scotland targets waiting lists with SMS ‘validation’

The health service north of the border is to send text messages to those waiting for upcoming appointments to confirm their ongoing requirement, with the aim of better allocating resources

NHS Scotland is rolling out a new text-message “validation” system to intended to help bring down waiting lists for health-service support by validating the

The initiative, delivered by the National Elective Coordination Unit (NECU), will first be introduced to patients served by the NHS Lanarkshire health board and who are waiting for orthopaedic, endoscopy or dermatology care. This group will receive a text later this month from mobile number 07860 039092, which will take them to a short survey to find out whether they still require their appointment.

The data gathered via this process is aimed to ensure that information held on NHS Scotland waiting lists is up-to-date, so resources are dedicated to those who need them the most.

The service has already undergone trials across different Scottish health boards and has proved “extremely successful”, allowing clinicians to prioritise “urgent cases”, according to Anne Burgon, service manager for NECU – a body created by Scottish Government to help improve current NHS waiting times.

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The announcement of the new SMS initiative, delivered in conjunction with tech firm DrDoctor, comes three weeks after figures shared by Public Health Scotland showed NHS waiting lists had reached a record high, with more than 690,000 people waiting for appointments for non-urgent care as of March.

Burgon said: “NECU supports local NHS Boards to ensure that information held on NHS Scotland waiting lists is accurate, helping us to reallocate any appointments or operations that are no longer needed to others on the waiting list.”

She added: “If you are waiting for an orthopaedic, endoscopy or dermatology appointment within NHS Lanarkshire, please do not ignore this message. Click on the link in your message to complete the survey and follow the simple instructions. We want to reassure our patients that the information gathered will only be used to manage our waiting lists, and all information shared will be kept safe and secure. This service has been used by a number of boards over the last year and has been extremely successful in determining, not only if the appointment was still required, but in prioritising urgent cases.”

Sofia Villegas and PublicTechnology staff

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