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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Two-thirds of patients willing to pay fine for missing a GP appointment

Seventy per cent of patients would be willing to pay a charge of £10 for missing a GP appointment, a poll of 507 UK patients has shown.

The survey, sponsored by Astellas Pharma, also found that only one in four patients thinks that UK governments are spending enough on health and that 39% would be willing to pay an additional charge for quicker access to healthcare in general.

Meanwhile, half of patients polled said they would be willing to accept an appointment by webcam if it made it easier to get an appointment.

It comes after a survey by the research division of Pulse’s publishers, Cogora, found that 66% of GPs wanted to see a charge for missed appointments.

But RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker argued that charging for missed appointments would ’be hard to administer for very little return and would add an extra layer of bureaucracy for GPs and their teams who are already struggling with heavy workloads in order to meet rising patient demand’.

She added that ’charging for appointments – missed or otherwise – would fundamentally change one of the founding principles of the NHS, that access is free at the point of need’.

She said: ’When patients don’t turn up for appointments, it can be frustrating– for both GPs and for patients who could have had the appointment otherwise – but charging a penalty for this is not the answer.’

Readers' comments (8)

  • If you haven't read Freakonomics, read it now to see what happens if you charge for missed appointments. It will produce an increase in DNA with a sense of entitlement to do so.

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  • £10 is not enough to make people change their behaviour. It would need to be nearer £30 to do so.

    The administration is dead simple. You require everyone to register a direct debit or charge card with you at registration, and automatically bill it for DNA with a data feed out from your clinical system to the bill manaagement platform. Failure to maintain an up to date billing system results in instant deregistration.

    Time to start charging folks. Its the only sustainable future model.

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  • John Glasspool

    oh yeah? Like until they get the bill and then argue, "Well I tried to phone and the lines were engaged". It isn't fair, my hamster was dying"- Cue outraged DM headlines.

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  • Maybe a charge for missed appointments (amount is clearly open to debate) would change behaviour. But independent contractors trying to enforce it? In our climate of patient power and friends and family tests etc, forget it.
    Anyway, DNA’s are a distraction from the real problem of excessive workload and we should be focussing on whether a charge for using healthcare services per se would work. It seems to work in Ireland and we simply cannot ignore this fundamental problem or the system really is going to collapse.
    It is time for the NHS to take ownership of General Practice and all of the politically induced problems that go with it.
    Ditch the contract comrades!

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  • One report suggests there are over 60,000 GP appointments missed every day which if true represents a potential £156m per year additional funding for primary care. That's not really a bad return is Dr Baker??? I'm sure CAPITA could manage it centrally for less than £1m per year.

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  • Just imagine every patient turning every session.........

    Besides which this system is difficult to implement and will have unintended consequences. For a start the £10 fine is nothing to middle class worried well but would be crippling to the unemployed, disabled, single parents.......i.e. those who often have greater need and are harder to engage in the first place.

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  • Some NHS services are free at point of contact - but not all. We pay for teeth, eyes and prescriptions if we work, as well as paying National Insurance so for those who say start charging, the majority of the population already do pay. Added to which if we are to go down the privatising health by the drip drip back door method, customers (which they will be) are likely to demand a good, probably bespoke service. Many of us are fortunate to have great primary care services but not everyone is and I believe if we were introducing a standard charge (or attaching a value to an appointment) customers may be questioning why GP's effectively earn a very large hourly rate, paid for by patients, but are not prescribing medication on 'costs' grounds. not giving them the full time they have 'paid' for, and not actually curing them, when they have heard/read in the media of 'treatments' that work for particular condidions - whether it is true or not. I would also be willing to bet that there would be far more people eager to give feedback, and it would generally be those who are unhappy with their experience and feel they have 'paid' for the right to say so.

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  • To the Practice manager,
    Re £10 or £30; if you want that kind of level of fiscail awareness, then each patient should be provided with annual accounts for how much they ''cost'' the practice and how well the surgery itself is performing.

    Some things you are practice are paid for .........to do under GMS contract

    Dr Glasspool, the hamster may indeed have been dying and therefore incurring vet bills...........:-)

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