NHS IT, Records and Data

02.01.19

Missed GP appointments costing the NHS £216m a year

The NHS is losing £216m each year due to wasted GP appointments after patients missed more than 15 million sessions last year, according to NHS England.

Of the 307 million sessions scheduled with GPs, nurses, therapists, and other practice staff every year, around 5% are missed without enough notice to invite other patients.

NHS England says that cancelling appointments instead of simply failing to turn up would free up time for doctors, nurses, and other professionals to see other people.

At £30 per missed appointment, the amount the NHS loses each year could pay the annual salary of 2,325 full-time family doctors.

Dr Nikki Kanani, the acting director of primary care for NHS England, commented: “We know that timely access to general practice appointments are a priority for the public, which is why we are growing the workforce and offering evening and weekend appointments.

“Our message is clear: if you cannot make it to your appointment or no longer need a consultation, please let your GP practice know in advance so the appointment can be filled by another patient.”

NHS England says it is ramping up access to GPs by using electronic methods of communication, introducing evening and weekend appointments, and recruiting new practice staff; and it is now asking patients to cancel their appointments if they know they cannot make them.

Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “When patients miss appointments it can be a frustrating waste of resources for GPs and our teams, but also for other patients who are struggling to secure an appointment for themselves.”

She said that whilst there may be many reasons why a patient might miss an appointment, patients should let their GPs know they can’t attend as soon as possible so that the slot can be offered to someone else.

Dr Richard Vautrey, the BMA’s GP committee chairman, added: “Every appointment at a GP practice is precious, especially at a time when GP services are struggling to cope with rising patient demand, staff shortages, and inadequate budgets.

“Practices will try many ways to address this problem, but ultimately patients do need to play their part.”

Image credit - anyaberkut

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