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Missed GP appointments 'should be logged with a health Oyster card'

Patients should be given health ‘Oyster cards’ that inform them of their personal financial impact on NHS resources, a Labour peer has suggested.

The system, inspired by Transport for London’s top-up travelcards, would see patients having to ‘swipe in’ each time they used services with a different amount of points deducted. Should they, for example, miss a GP appointment, a larger number of points would come off the card.

Although no actual money would need to be paid towards the usage, patients would need to ‘recharge’ their cards and at the end of the year they would recieve a bill outlining their total cost to the NHS, Lord Meghnad Desai suggested.

Speaking in a House of Lords debate, the baron said this would ‘make it clear to people that a free NHS is not a costless one’ and thereby perhaps impact their behaviour to minimise wastage of resources.

He said: ‘I propose a sort of health Oyster card for every citizen. Every time they used the NHS, they would have to swipe their Oyster card and a certain number of points would be deducted.

‘The Oyster cards could be recharged. At the end of the year, people would get a bill showing how many points had been used and on which health service facilities. If people missed a GP appointment, 15 points would be deducted rather than two.’

The suggestion comes after health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he supported in principle the idea of charging patients for missed appointments but that it would be difficult to introduce in practice. The Government has since clarified it has no plans to introduce charges for missed appointments.

Readers' comments (18)

  • What a blithering fool.
    We can confidently predict that no patient will alter one penny of their behaviour just by being told how much they cost the NHS, so the savings are nil.
    On the other hand this oyster card scheme would cost £millions and millions to run.

    And such idiots are in the House of Lords, sitting in governance over us. A schoolchild age 16 doing business studies GCSE could do better than our Lords and Masters. No wonder the country is in such an unutterable mess.

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  • And how would the patient swipe in for an appt they made by phone and failed to turn up for? Their card would not have been swiped at all. Does he expect us to use up already overstretched staff time going to some HSCIC website to find the patient and deduct the points from their account? And then a year later when patient gets their statement to get into months of heated arguments with the patient claiming they never made the appt which guzzle up management time that is already way overstretched and staff who are looking for any excuse to walk away from this politically created cesspit of an NHS?
    What a complete fool he is.
    I expect the GPC and Maureen will praise him for his contribution, have you got your gong yet Maureen? Chaand has.

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  • It's all going according to a plan. I just mentioned last week that we were entering an era of chips when Simon Stevens- 'Chief'- muttered something about 'doing the forbidden' and 'not having patient lists' This is a continuation of my line of thought and here's 'Baron',lo behold, a few days later, watering down ' Oysters'.
    We should see the dissolution of NHSE being announced in the next 6 months as it has 'done it's job' - plan accomplished. In the following 6, a date for issue of 'chip cards' to monitor our movements in the system should be materializing.
    I bet the UK taxpayer is going to be really excited on who scored the most - it's like batting in cricket after all and making maximum use - not necessarily sensible- of resources made available.

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  • Ah yes, the swiping machines will have to be procured by GPs at exorbitant costs from some family member of the ruling junta.

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  • It will be super secure so that there is no way that anyone will be able to track the UK populations' movements and illnesses via this technology.
    Not at all.

    Time for a re read of 1984.

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  • The likely effect on someone who has not used up all his entitlement ( points) at the end of the year?

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  • BTW, Singapore has a system where you have a certain quota of health services you can avail on your card and then you have to pay for the rest - wonder whether this could be our reality in a few years.

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  • Why not just electrocute patients who have DNAd when they next come to reception.

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  • As a retired Urologist used to say, 'DNAs - god bless every one of them.'

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  • I feel another IT procurement disaster coming on

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