The high rate of non-attendance for first appointments at psychiatric clinics is wasteful of health service resources. Previous studies have demonstrated reductions in the non-attendance rates when referred patients were asked to contact the clinic to confirm that they wished to be seen before an appointment was sent. The effect of introducing such a process to a community based alcohol service was investigated. Results showed that although there was a reduction in the non-attendance rate, the overall effect was to discourage patients from attending the clinic, resulting in a large reduction in the proportion of all referrals seen. Alternative approaches are discussed.
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