PATIENTS who deliberately miss appointments should be charged, a GP has suggested.

Shocking figures uncovered during an investigation by a Southend Patient group reveal missed appointments are costing the local NHS service thousands of pounds a month and extending waiting lists for patients who genuinely need to see their GPs.

Southend’s Patient Participation Group Forum has been investigating the figures at each practice.

They discovered about six per cent of appointments are missed each month, each wasting time GPs could have spent seeing other patients.

NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has estimated between 2,000 and 3,000 appointments across their area are not kept each month.

With each appointment costing the NHS £31 this equates to between £62,000 to £93,000 wasted for the hard-pressed organisation.

Dr Krishna Chaturvedi who runs the Southbourne Grove surgery, said the problem was rife and called for GPs to be able to make similar charges as dentists for missed appointments.

He said: “Every week there are large numbers of patients who simply don’t turn up and all we can do is inform patients what a problem that is and ask them to please phone us to cancel so we can see other patients.

“This has been a problem for a long time and I don’t understand why it is taking so long to resolve it. If you don’t turn up to a dentist appointment you have to pay so I don’t see why we can’t do the same, but it has to come from Government. We can’t change the rules.”



Dr Krishna Chaturvedi wants patients to pay for missed appointments

Dr Chaturvedi added: “This also a problem with A&E departments which are already stretched. Often we find out that someone who hasn’t turned up for an emergency appointment has gone to A&E instead. It’s not necessary as they could be quite easily treated by their GP and they don’t pay there either.

“Often genuinely sick patients, including children, have to wait longer than they should because of this problem.”

“Some patients are waiting two to three weeks for appointments and that is completely unacceptable but DNAs don’t help. Patients have rights but those rights come with responsibilities.”

Last month the Echo told how a patient waited almost a month to see his doctor.

Shockingly many of those who fail to turn up have booked emergency or same-day appointments, which could have been used by genuine emergency patients.


Surgery lets patients know how many appointments are missed

PALL Mall surgery in Leigh posts monthly figures to show their patients exactly what failing to turn up for appointments means for the practise.

In October, 189 emergency or same-day appointments were missed, along with 144 pre-booked doctor or nurse appointments and 47 blood test appointments costing the surgery £10,656. In November the corresponding figures were 156, 127 and 12 respectively. This amounted to an £8,773 loss for the surgery.

Jane Coldicott, practice manager at the surgery said: “We put the monthly figures up in the waiting room to highlight the problem. We regularly get comments from patients saying they didn’t realise it was so much of a problem.

“If patients just let us know then appointments can be offered to other patients and waiting lists might not be so long.”

Sally Carr, chairman of Southend’s Patient Participation Group Forum, agreed charges for missed appointments could be a way of helping to tackle the problem. She said: “I think it’s something we might have to look at. We have to discuss things like that. Each surgery has different methods so they might consider it or it might be something the Government makes a statement about.

“At my surgery they send a text if you have a mobile phone as soon as you book an appointment then they send a reminder the day before asking patients to text back if they can’t keep the appointment.

“There is so much in the papers about people not getting appointments but you look at the other side of the coin so many people are failing to keep appointments.

“ I just can’t understand how anyone could make an emergency appointment and then fail to keep it. I think there definitely needs to be a deterrent to that.”


Fizz Haji wants patients with minor health conditions to seek help from pharmacies first

HEALTH leaders in Southend are urging patients to make better use of their pharmacists in a bid to make more GP appointments available for those in genuine need.

The NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group say turning to pharmacists for advice on minor ailments would reduce pressure on GPs.

Fizz Haji, of the Belfairs Pharmacy, said” “Patients with minor conditions such as a cough or a cold, a rash or a minor injury should visit their pharmacist for advice before booking to see their GP. You can visit any pharmacist without an appointment, you just walk in.

“We can offer advice on a range of minor conditions, and many medications that used to be prescription-only are now available over the counter. This includes anti-inflammatories, antihistamines, antacids and minor steroid cream for rashes.

“We train for more than five years and there is also a continuous professional development programme we have to participate in order to continue practising. We will refer a patient back to their GP if it is something we are unable to help with.”

Mr Haji said many pharmacists have continued to develop their customer service and now offer customers a private consulting room and a chaperone service.