More than five appointments with mental health specialists are missed every day across Tayside.

On average, 2,286 mental health appointments have been missed each year since 2013.

And the no-shows are increasing, with 2,667 appointments missed in 2018 being the highest figure in the last five years.

The reasons for patients not making it to appointments after a GP referral are complicated, according to a local mental health charity.

Wendy Callander, chief executive of Wellbeing Works Dundee, said anxiety is just one of many reasons.

Wellbeing Works is the rebranded name for the Dundee Association for Mental Health, following a change last month.

Ms Callander said: “It is difficult for me to say why people miss appointments with the NHS, but we have similar examples when people are referred to us.

“They often miss their first meeting if we send them a letter inviting them in after a referral. If we reach out to someone, there is a chance they will not show.

“There’s a lot of anxiety and not knowing what to expect that causes that.

“We get referrals from a wide source of people and places.

“What is more likely to work for us is if someone comes with them — a friend or family member of support worker, for example.

“With mental health, you don’t just wake up deciding you have a problem. It can take weeks and months to creep up.

“Going to a doctor about a cough can provide anxiety, so if it’s about mental health that can be even worse.”

While understanding how difficult it can be for someone with mental health issues to  reach out for help, Wendy insists it is worthwhile.

She added: “It’s a huge problem.

“NHS are telling us about missed appointments and they are trying to address that particular issue.

“Wellbeing wants to resolve the issues because the help is there, but if people aren’t able to get to it then they’re not getting the benefit.

“One problem is people not knowing what to say to a GP, but there is nothing you can tell them that they haven’t heard before.”

NHS Tayside does not report reasons for why appointments have been missed, as most of the time it is not known.

Missed GP appointments for all ailments cost the health board £277,000 in just one week last year.

At the time, NHS Tayside estimated that one in 10 GP appointments are wasted every week.

 

link to Courier article here

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