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Charge patients who DNA

Nearly three quarters of GPs believe that they should be allowed to remove patients from their list if they repeatedly fail to turn up for appointments.

Their view is backed by 41% of patients, figures released by Developing Patient Partnerships show.

Two-thirds of GPs and patients also believe DNAs should be charged a £10.

The charity interviewed more than 1,000 patients and surveyed GPs at 557 practices to calculate that almost 13.5 million appointments with GPs are missed every year. Patients also missed nearly 6.5 million appointments per year with practice nurses.

An overwhelming 97% of GPs felt that missed appointments were a massive waste of NHS resources and 89% said that missed appointments increased waiting times for other patients.

Dr David Wrigley, DPP chairman and a GP in Carnforth, Lancashire, said: ‘In our view striking patients off really is a last resort, but what is clear from this is the level of frustration felt by GP practices and clearly the public don't look too kindly on people missing appointments either.'

He added that 54% of patients reported difficulty getting through on the telephone to cancel appointments so this was something practices should bear in mind.

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC chairman, said practices should find out why patients persistently failed to turn up for appointments before taking any action, and many practices already had a procedure for doing this.

‘Removing a patient from a list for misuse of the service should be absolutely the last resort taken after the patient has had some opportunity to explain what has happened,' he said.

‘As for the idea of charging patients who do not attend, the majority of GPs do not support charging patients who miss appointments. They have demonstrated this by repeatedly voting against the idea at their annual conference of LMCs.'

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