Medical director urges residents to ring and cancel if they are going to miss an appointment
MEDICAL director for Lancashire, Dr Kieran Murphy, has reminded patients to ring and cancel appointments if they can’t attend.
More than 15 million general practice appointments in England are being wasted each year because patients do not turn up and fail to warn surgeries that they will not be attending.
There are around 307 million sessions scheduled with GPs, nurses, therapists and other practice staff every year and 5% - one in 20 – are missed without enough notice to invite other patients. That works out as around 15.4m missed slots.
Of these, around 7.2m are with busy family doctors, which adds up to more than 1.2m GP hours wasted each year – the equivalent of over 600 GPs working full time for a year.
Each appointment costs an average of £30, putting the total cost to the NHS at more than £216m pounds on top of the disruption for staff and fellow patients that would 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; and the annual salary of 8,424 full time community nurses.
NHS England is ramping up access to GPs and other health professionals by recruiting thousands of new practice staff and appointments are now available in the evening and at weekdays right across the country.
However, patients can do their bit by making a New Year’s resolution to let the NHS know if they cannot attend an appointment.
Dr Kieran Murphy said: “Ensuring there are appointments for those who need to see a doctor is our priority, if you have booked an appointment at your doctors and you no longer need it please remember to call your doctors and cancel the appointment, help us to help other this winter.”
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.
“This is particularly important as we go in to winter. 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 the country since December, more than three months ahead of schedule, and means there will be an estimated nine million extra appointments each year. The appointments are available across seven days and through designated local NHS services, or in some cases a patient’s own GP practice.
They are being offered in addition to other services such as out of hours GPs and NHS 111 that offer access to clinicians at any time day or night.