CCG texting success

Published on Monday 20 February 2017

New figures released today indicate that an initiative rolled out by NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group last year has been making real progress in tackling the difficult problem of wasted GP appointments.   The new service, which allows GP practices to communicate with patients by text, looks set to reduce wasted appointments by 19,500 appointments per year. 

Patients registered at Bolton GP practices have been receiving appointment reminders by text since the summer.  Unwanted appointments can be cancelled quickly and easily by simply replying to the text.  This new service was introduced to reduce waste and improve availability by reminding people to attend, cancel, or change their GP appointment.  It has also been used to invite eligible patients to book in for their flu vaccination or NHS Health Check.

Dr Wirin Bhatiani, Chair of NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“Bolton people tell us that they often struggle to get an appointment at their GP practice and find it difficult to get in touch when they need to.  This initiative is all about reducing the number of wasted appointments, helping practices to work more efficiently, and of course providing greater convenience for patients.” 

“I encourage everyone to cancel appointments if they are no longer needed, whether they are booked with a GP practice or another health service.  These are challenging times for our NHS and resources are limited, so we must use them wisely.” 

A partnership between the CCG and leading British digital health innovation company iPLATO Healthcare, has been working with Bolton GP practices to roll out this new system.  Patients are encouraged to check that their GP practice has their mobile phone number so they can benefit from the service. 

The privacy of patients and protection of confidential data is a key consideration throughout the development of this programme.  Patients can opt out at any time by notifying their GP, or any other member of staff at their GP practice.

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