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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 August, 2003, 03:34 GMT 04:34 UK
GPs back 'no show' fines
Missed appointments cost 250m a year
Two-thirds of family doctors believe patients should be fined for missing appointments, according to a survey of 600 GP practices across the UK.

Ninety per cent of the GPs interviewed thought waiting times would be much shorter if patients did not waste their time.

More than 12 million GP appointments are missed every year, costing the health service an estimated 250m annually.

Developing Patient Partnerships (DPP), which with the Institute of Healthcare Management conducted the survey, called for action to tackle the problem.

More than 64% of GPs thought reminding patients of appointments by phone, text or email was a potential solution.

Educating patients about the implications of missing appointments was supported by 77.6%.

DPP chairman Dr Simon Fradd said: "These findings show that having a good health service depends on the way people use it as well as the people providing the service.

Missed appointments
North and Yorkshire: 492 appointments missed on average per GP each year
South East: 232 missed appointments
London: 246.5 missed appointments
Scotland: 432.6 missed appointments
"Everyone forgets things on occasion and it can sometimes be difficult to get through to your practice to cancel your appointment.

"GP practices recognise this, which is why over 80% of them said they would welcome software in their surgeries to remind patients about their appointments and allow them to cancel them."

Simon Williams, director of policy at the Patients Association, said: "People don't appreciate the impact missed appointments have on other patients.

"The survey shows that GP practices think missed appointments are costly to the NHS and mean patients have to wait longer.

"Missed appointments are not beneficial to patients, health professionals or the NHS."


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