Cost of missed appointments hitting GP practices hard
Angela Stockwood, primary care project manager, NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, writes about the impact of missed appointments on GP practices.
£3,720. That is how much it cost one Lincoln practice after patients failed to turn up to pre-booked GP or nurse appointments – in a single month.
198. That is how many GP or nurse appointments were missed at a Gainsborough surgery – again in a single month.
At NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, we work with 32 practices across Lincoln, Gainsborough and surrounding areas.
If you take both figures above as a ball-park average then we can say, in this CCG alone, almost £1.5 million a year is wasted as around 76,000 appointments are not being used.
Just think about those figures for a minute.
In terms of the former, this could pay for dozens of new GPs and nurses in our local area.
And there lies a huge issue for the NHS at the moment. Did Not Attends or DNAs as we commonly call them. We love an acronym or two!
Cancel in advance
So we are pleading with patients to please, please attend your appointment and if you no longer need to see a clinician then please remember to notify your practice.
There are many other patients who may urgently require those ten minutes with the GP.
We’d also urge patients to sign up to mobile phone text reminders.
These are a great way of remembering you have an appointment coming up. Of course, so many of us lead such busy lives that it is easy to forget things that aren’t about work or the kids.
So we’d definitely advise patients to check with their practice whether they operate text reminders or not and sign up if they do.
Even some of our smaller practices see big DNA numbers. It is a countywide issue and across the country too.
Despite the huge pressures the NHS faces, it is in good health but it is important we work collectively with our patients to ensure that is maintained and that it is sustained and that is managed most effectively.
This includes, perhaps most importantly, time management.
And we understand it’s not just an issue for GP surgeries, with hospitals also reporting missed appointments.
GPs sometimes get letters from hospitals informing them of patients missing follow-up appointments at a time when hospital services are under significant pressure and that naturally has a serious impact.
There are already long waiting times for people.
Every appointment that is missed means that somebody else who really needs it, didn’t get it.
Educating the public about the importance of attending their appointments is important and explaining the impact of missed appointments on services and the impact it has on other patients.
We can’t stress enough that there are many other patients who may urgently require those ten minutes with the GP.
Those invaluable minutes could save a life.