DNAs fall as GPs urge fines for missed appointments
Seven in 10 practices want
patients fined for missing appointments, a large survey has revealed. But the number of DNAs has fallen three million in a year, the survey of 10,758 practices found.
The Doctor Patient Partnership, which conducted the survey, said advanced access appointment systems and the Government's 48-hour access target had helped cut non-
attendance because patients were less likely to forget an
appointment booked recently.
The survey found 54 per cent of practices supported a fine of under £10 while 14 per cent wanted a higher penalty.
It also revealed 244,000
appointments are missed every week in the UK 12.6 million per year. But this was a fall of 2.8 million from last year.
GPs in the Northern and Yorkshire region had an average of nine DNAs a week, and those in Scotland an average of eight, compared with five in London and only four in the South-East.
Nearly 60 per cent of practices said missed appointments were a problem: 64 per cent said facilities to send reminders by telephone, mobile or e-mail would help cut DNA rates, and 78 per cent called for a public education campaign.
Partnership chair Dr Simon Fradd, joint-deputy chair of the GPC, said the fall in DNAs was welcome but the figure was 'still astronomical'.
Dr Jasper Mohan, a GP in east London whose practice has cut DNA rates by reminding patients by text message, said fines would be a 'bureaucratic nightmare' to police.
Dr Mohan said a public education campaign would be most effective, as texting reminders had only dented the problem. 'We text 20 people to prevent one not turning up.'
Missed GP appointments
· 12.6 million DNAs a year cost the NHS £250m
· 68% of GPs want patients fined for no-shows
· GPs in Northern and Yorkshire region have average of nine DNAs a week, compared with eight in Scotland, five in London and four in the South-East