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Angry GPs demand to see 'did not attends' punished

By Nerys Hairon

GPs and practice staff view patients who miss appointments as 'criminal' and are in favour of ways they can 'punish' them, research concludes.

The study of 336 GPs in separate practices in Yorkshire found nearly half favoured charging patients for missed appointments.

More than 80 per cent of GPs said 'did not attends', or DNAs, were a problem for their practice.

The research, published in the February issue of the British Journal of General Practice, found DNAs caused high levels of anger and frustration among both doctors and practice staff.

GPs perceived patients who failed to cancel their slot

as 'ignorant', or lacking respect or a sense of respon-

sibility.

Almost 30 per cent of GPs said patients simply forgetting was the main reason for appointments being missed, but 23 per cent cited 'patient couldn't be bothered' as a significant cause.

Receptionists felt GPs had a responsibility to challenge patients who had missed an appointment in the next consultation over the reasons for their non-attendance.

Study author Dr Jim Hodgson, a GP in Keighley, West Yorkshire, said the researchers had been surprised at the strength of feelings among GPs and practice staff.

He added: 'It's important for the profession to explore ways to improve the situation but there is no evidence that punishing patients will make an awful lot of difference to them.'

Dr Hodgson said: 'Open access is one possible solution instead of targeting individuals for criminal behaviour.'

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