PEOPLE failing to turn up for appointments are costing Dorset County Hospital up to £3million.

Every year more than 19,000 patients fail to turn up for appointments at Dorset County Hospital, costing the facility nearly £3million in loss of income and wasted resources.

To combat this, DCH has launched a new text message reminder service with the aim of cutting the number of missed appointments.

The new service sends out a text just before they are due to attend to remind them of the date and location on their appointment and hospital bosses said it has been working.

Patient Governor Wendy Nightingale urged people to turn up to their appointments and if they couldn’t make it, to let the hospital know.

People made appointments and then some didn’t bother turning up and that was money that could be used elsewhere, she said.

Mrs Night-ingale said that on the positive side that the new text service appeared to be helping.

“It app-ears to be working. There aren’t so many people not turning up for appointments,” she added.

Patient access lead Anita Thomas agreed. She said: “Patient feedback has been very positive and we have certainly seen a reduction in the number of missed appointments since rolling out the service.

“Many pat-ients call us after receiving the text to say they had forgotten about it and would like to change it, which means that we can offer their appointment to another patient.” She added: “For the moment some clinics are not part of the service due to the sensitive nature of the appointment but we are looking at different ways of delivering the message so that they can be included in future. “All new appointment letters contain information on opting out of the system if people would rather not receive texts and there are posters in all outpatient areas and local GP surgeries explaining the service and the opt out process.”

The hospital is urging patients to provide up to date contact details to ensure the system is as effective as possible.

Patients can provide up to date contact details by calling the number on their appointment letter between 8.30am and 5pm from Mondays to Fridays.