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Missed GP Appointments

Volume 663: debated on Tuesday 23 July 2019

Missed appointments are a waste of NHS resources, and we believe that encouraging patients to use the NHS sensibly and responsibly is the right approach. We are encouraging a range of local schemes to help to reduce missed appointments, with clinical commissioning groups and practices embracing technology and adopting a variety of approaches, such as text reminders, patient-recorded bookings and the increased use of online systems that make it quick and easy for patients to change and cancel appointments.

A GP surgery in my constituency has reported that in one month this year, 78 people failed to keep their appointment and failed to cancel it. Those failures led to the surgery losing 11 hours’ working time. The surgery has announced that it will consider removing patients from its register if they miss three consecutive appointments. Does my hon. Friend support that proposal, and does she think that the policy should be rolled out across other surgeries?

Local NHS organisations know their populations best, and that is why the Government support locally led initiatives to reduce missed appointments. The evidence shows us that people are less likely to miss an appointment if they have a convenient option. Swale CCG has a “Did Not Attend” campaign, which will run across the region this summer and support his constituents in making sure that they use their appointments responsibly.

Is the Minister aware of any research that has been done, not just on missed appointments, but on repeat offenders who periodically miss their appointments, and the effect that has? What can be done to ensure that that is not repeated beyond today?

There is no overall estimate of the number of people who miss their appointments. We want to encourage people to be responsible, but we also want to make booking appointments as easy as possible by having things such as online and text booking. NHS England will shortly conduct an access review, which will look at ways of developing a coherent offer to patients in terms of how they access their practice appointments. We will therefore make things easier, and hopefully bring down the number of people who miss an appointment.