Two-thirds of family doctors believe patients should be fined for missing appointments, according to a survey of 600 GP practices across the UK.
Missed appointments cost £250m a year
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
"Everyone forgets things on occasion and it can sometimes be difficult to get
through to your practice to cancel your appointment.
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
"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