HOLDING government and political parties to account for the quality of our National Health Service is a key issue in the upcoming election.

However, on a recent visit to Dorset County Hospital I was reminded of the responsibilities that patients also have for the quality of healthcare offered under our National Health Service.

While accompanying a relative to a hospital dental appointment I was struck by an appeal on the waiting area TV monitor asking for help in reducing the percentage of missed out-patient appointments.

I was shocked by the numbers displayed and contacted Dorset County Hospital to be sure I had read the information correctly.

Data provided by the hospital reveal that from April last year through to this October over 3,000 patients (6.2%) missed their first appointment and a staggering 7,539 (6.3%) patients missed their follow-up appointments. All together that’s over 10,000 (6.2%) missed appointments during that period

In a speciality area such as ENT during the same time frame there were 125 (5.6%) patients who missed their first appointments and 259 (7.1%) who missed follow-up appointments.

It seems to me that this translates into too many ‘lost’ appointment slots that likely extend wait times for other patients.

Likewise it seems that far too many individuals did not follow through with their healthcare plan, potentially jeopardizing their own health outcomes and possibly requiring repeat or additional treatment.

This situation impacts me personally.

A close family member is only twelve weeks into what is likely to be a twenty-six week wait for an ENT specialist appointment for a life-limiting condition and would have really appreciated one of those missed appointments.

The upcoming election is bringing intense scrutiny to the crisis in our National Health Service - staff shortages, wait times, deferred maintenance, buildings not fit for purpose, etc.

A well-resourced NHS is a priority and as healthcare consumers we have to play our part in improving health outcomes. One way is to use our vote another is to keep our appointments.

Jane Ashdown

Linden Avenue