More NHS appointments delayed but patients tell of cleaner wards

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Thousands of patients waiting to see specialists have their hospital appointments changed to later dates more than once.

A Care Quality Commission (CQC) survey discovered that almost a quarter of patients in 2011 had their appointments changed at least once by their hospitals, and increase on postponements in 2009.

One patient in every five visiting for repeat appointments had their times changed to later dates once and a further six per cent had them changed two or three times.

Of those waiting for a first appointment, 12 per cent experienced one change and a further two per cent had their appointments changed to later dates two or three times.

The figures came from a survey of more than 72,000 NHS patients.

Some improvements in patient scores were recorded compared to 2009, including more people thinking the hospitals they attended were clean, they were treated with respect and communicated well with their doctors. Improvements in the way doctors explained any action or treatment were also noted.

But more patients than before felt test results were not explained properly.

CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower said it was “encouraging to see some improvement in basic aspects like being treated with respect and dignity and cleanliness.

“However, more still needs to be done to ensure that outpatients know what to expect, have tests and treatments explained to them clearly and are properly informed about the potential side effects of any medications they are prescribed.”

Public Health Minister Anne Milton said more patients were being seen in clean environments and were treated with respect and dignity.

The NHS was being modernised to put patients first, she said.