Beep! Beep! You're late!

Text messages will be sent to patients to remind them about their hospital appointments in a trial starting next month, it has emerged.

The cost of sending the message will be met by companies which will pay to include an advert.

The idea behind the scheme is to cut down on the number of patients missing appointments, which is estimated to cost the NHS around £400 million a year.

Patients will be asked when booking their appointment if they would like to receive a reminder by text message on the day before they are due to attend.

Initial trials at Homerton Hospital, north London, last summer proved successful enough to begin the second stage in four other parts of the country - Portsmouth, Manchester, Coventry and north-west London.

Enpocket, the company developing the scheme, said it had already signed-up the first sponsor, the health drink brand Yakult.

Jeremy Wright, co-founder of Enpocket, said: "It is thought to cost around £400 million a year when patients fail to turn up for their appointment so anything that reminds them has to be good news.

"Text messages reach patients in a way that email never could because over 70 per cent of the population have a mobile phone."

Mr Wright said another 30 NHS trusts were interesting in joining the scheme who together account for nine million hospital appointments ever year.

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