Charge those who miss appointments - GPs
MORE than 80% of GPs in the East of England support the idea of charging patients who miss appointments, new research has found.Figures show 707,296 GP appointments are missed by patients in the region every year while 347,546 practice nurse appointments are unattended.
By Danielle Nuttall
MORE than 80% of GPs in the East of England support the idea of charging patients who miss appointments, new research has found.
Figures show 707,296 GP appointments are missed by patients in the region every year while 347,546 practice nurse appointments are unattended.
GP practices across the region were interviewed by the Developing Patient Partnerships (DPP) about the problem.
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The survey found 85% of GPs supported the idea of charging patients for appointments they missed.
A further 62% said they agreed with the concept of striking off patients who persistently failed to turn up to appointments.
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But GPs in Suffolk said last night they did not support either idea.
Barham GP Dr Paul Thomas said: “The people who miss appointments are people who need to have the appointment. It would just alienate patients against their doctors.
“At the end of the day, I have so many slots in the morning I have to carry on working until I see everyone and it's quite a relief to have someone not turn up.
“It gives us a chance to catch up on other things.”
Saxmundham GP Dr John Havard added: “It's far better to rely on patients to accept responsibility by telling them the impact it has on our day-to-day work.
“I would be worried about the cost of administering and collecting the money. I think striking patients off is a heavy-handed approach.”
Of the GPs surveyed in the region, 56% believed charges for missed appointments should be below £10 while 29% thought it should be over £10.
Nationally, 13.5million GP appointments and 6.5million practice nurse appointments are missed every year.
Dr David Wrigley, DPP chairman and Lancashire GP, said: “In our view, striking patients off really is the last resort but what is clear from this is the level of frustration felt by GP practices and clearly the public don't look too kindly on people missing appointments either.”
But Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the British Medical Association's GPs Committee, representing all UK family doctors, said: “As for the idea of charging patients who do not attend, the majority of GPs do not support charging patients who miss appointments.
“They have demonstrated this by repeatedly voting against the idea at their annual conference.”