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Missed GP appointments are costing the NHS millions

17th January 2019

Missed GP appointments are costing the NHS millions of pounds each year because of patients not turning up and failing to inform their surgeries that they won’t be attending.

NHS England states that more than 15 million general practice slots are being wasted each year because people are not turning up to their appointments.

There are around 307 million sessions scheduled with GPs, nurses, therapists and other practice staff every year. One in twenty, or 5%, are missed without enough notice being given for surgeries to fill the empty slots, which works out around 15.4 million missed appointments per year.

Of this 15.4 million, around 7.2 million are with family doctors, which adds up to more than 1.2 million GP hours wasted each year.

The NHS said each appointment costs on average £30, putting the total cost to the NHS at more than £216 million pounds on top of the disruption for staff and other patients.

To put that figure into perspective, this is what that money could also pay for:

  • The annual salary of 2,325 full-time GPs
  • 224, 640 cataract operations
  • 58,320 hip replacement operations
  • 216,000 drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s
  • The annual salary of 8,424 full-time community nurses

NHS England is urging people to do their bit by letting their GP surgery know if they can’t attend their appointment.

Dr Nikki Kanani, Acting Director of Primary Care for NHS England, said: “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.

“The NHS’ long term plan will set out how we will build on this progress, but patients can do their part by letting the NHS know if they can’t make their slot – freeing up doctors, nurses and other professionals to see those who do need care and attention.

“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.”

Evening and weekend access to GP services has been available across England since December. This means there will be an estimated 9 million extra appointments each year.  There are also out of hours GPs on hand and NHS 111 service gives patients the chance to access clinicians at any time.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman 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.

“There may be many reasons why a patient might miss an appointment, and in some cases it can be an indication that something serious is going on for that individual – but we would urge patients to let us know if they can’t attend as soon as possible, so that we can offer that time to someone else who really needs it.”

Older adults with mobility issues, who might need the help of specialised equipment such as a stairlift, are an example of the people in the community who could make use of the many missed appointments every year.

Professor Stokes-Lampard also stated that GP practices are using text message reminders to help encourage patients to keep their appointments, or to cancel them promptly if they cannot attend.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.