GP appointments missed24th August 2007
Several million GP and practice nurse appointments are being missed every year.
A survey for Developing Patient Partnerships among 557 GP practices and 1,013 adults revealed that many practices felt missed appointments were a problem, with almost half considering 'forgetfulness' was the main reason.
But while 44% claimed patients simply did not value their appointments, only a handful of practices felt patients were unable to get through on the phone to cancel an appointment.
However, in the public part of the survey, more than half of patients (54%) felt difficulties getting through to the practice were to blame.
Vanessa Bourne from the Patients Association agreed and said: "Obviously patients need to be responsible but one of the main problems is that patients find it difficult to get in touch with their GP."
The survey suggested that each year 13.5 million GP appointments and 6.5 million practice nurse appointments are missed. Practices felt this increased waiting times for other patients and wasted valuable NHS resources.
More than 70% of GP practices said they would strike off regular offenders or be prepared to charge £10 for missed appointments.
However, BMA GP Committee chair Dr Laurence Buckman said doctors had repeatedly rejected the idea of charging and removing a patient from a list should be "absolutely the last resort."
Dr David Wrigley, chair of the Developing Patient Partnership, said GP practices and the public did not look kindly on people missing appointments but practices needed to take on board the difficulties patients said they had getting through on the phone.
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Title: GP appointments missed
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 3880
Date Added: 24th Aug 2007