A REVOLUTIONARY phone-text scheme to remind patients to keep doctors appointments is being tested in Hyndburn.
The initiative, which will enable doctors to send text messages to their patients, has been launched by the Teaching Primary Care Trust for East Lancashire, based in Blackburn.
Daniel Johson, knowledge management project co-ordinator for the trust, said: "I first got the idea when I was on holiday and I received an automated text message. I remember thinking that if patients received text messages reminding them they had an appointment, it would save a lot of time and money.
"If patients want to book an appointment, they can give their mobile number to the receptionist, and their consent to receive the message. From that point on, it is all automated.
"If the person does not have a mobile phone, they can give the number of a relative, or carer if they have one."
Barry Rodick, project co-ordinator for the trust, said: "Every time someone misses an appointment, it costs the NHS a lot of money.
"By sending messages, doctors can remind patients that they have an appointment to go to.
"That way, if the patient needs to re-schedule the appointment, or is unable to come for whatever reason, they can tell the doctor efficiently and quickly."
He added that missed appointments cost the NHS £300M each year, a figure equivalent to £200 per person.
Dr John Royle based at Great Harwood Health Centre, said: "I have read about the scheme but it has not affected us yet.
"I can see it might be a help if the technology and software were in place to make it work.