According to a Freedom of Information Request by the Welsh Conservative party, a total of 74,505 appointments were cancelled during a 12-month period in 2013/14. The figures have been collated from six of the seven health boards in Wales.
The statistics include cancellations made by the clinic, as well as the patient. They also include changes to the date and time of an original appointment.
The Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) has called the figures “worrying,” adding that the current hospital appointment system is unable to cope with a growing demand for its ophthalmology services.
A spokesperson for the Welsh Conservative Party informed OT that it submitted the Freedom of Information Request following concerns raised by the RNIB, as well as constituents who said they had “bad experiences of appointments being cancelled at the last minute.”
Director of the RNIB Wales, Ceri Jackson, told OT: “I am very concerned about the number of cancelled and delayed appointments in the hospital eye service.
“I welcome the increased priority from health boards in addressing the capacity problems and the Welsh Government’s new planned care programme, which we understand includes a review of capacity and demand.
“However, we urgently need to change NHS targets so that patients at risk of losing their sight who need follow up appointments are seen as recommended by the consultant or eye care professional.
Ms Jackson added: “The Welsh Government’s referral to treatment time target is putting pressure on the health boards to see new patients which means follow up appointments are often cancelled or delayed.”
During the 2014/15 year to date, a total 16,684 appointments have been scrapped by clinics, while a further 5,273 have been cancelled by the patient.