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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Stop meddling with NHS DNA

Copperfield

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Another year, another tub-thump about DNAs. Every story on this subject, and Gawd knows we’ve had a few, offers up a familiar litany of finger-wagging at naughty DNA’ing punters topped off with a tedious round of number crunching to ram home the point.

As in this 2019 version, in which patients must play their part in an overstretched NHS to avoid wasting precious resources, yada yada.

And in which the costs of DNAs are morphed into shocking soundbites, specifically equating to 224,640 cataract operations, 216,000 courses of Alzheimer’s treatments or 58,320 hip replacements, the relevance of this particular triad presumably being that this money would ensure patients could actually read the appointment date in their diary, remember to go and be mobile enough to get there.

All of which ignores a couple of inconvenient truths.

Ghost appointments, like ghost patients, are factored into the system, and eliminating them would destroy our essential buffer zone

First, that the people at whom these exhortations to stop wasting appointments are aimed are the very ones least likely to respond, given that they tend to represent a cohort known for calling out of hours, attending A&E and generally not giving a toss about what they cost the NHS.

Second, that eliminating DNAs would be a great way of ensuring that the NHS finally grinds to a halt. Ghost appointments, like ghost patients, are factored into the system, and eliminating them would destroy the essential buffer zone we all rely on to catch our breath, read some mail, evacuate our bowels, etc.

So let’s stop this annual hand-wringing, sermonising nonsense, shall we? DNAs are part of the NHS’s DNA, and meddling with that would be playing God with the appointment system. And only receptionists are allowed to do that.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex

 

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Readers' comments (7)

  • Well said TC and a very Happy New Year to my favourite Pulse columnist!

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  • Why despair when TC treats us to another wonderful rant? Thanks Tony and Best Wishes for 2019.

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  • Absolutely right ! The only people who worry about DNAs are those who don't actually see patients. Unfortunately there now seems to be an increasing cadre of 'executive' GPs who fall into this category...

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  • There are three types of patients. Those who make appointments and keep them, those who make appointments and don't keep them, and those who don't make appointments at all. Most of the trouble comes from the first group.

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  • CENSORSHIP?

    @ Burnt Out
    other types
    4. Those who make a 10 min appt and have one problem
    5. Those who make a 10 min appt and bring a list
    6. Those who make appts for there relative who they have finally visited and suddenly want them completely fixed
    7. Those who are pissed off
    with the whole NHS
    but can only think of seeing the GP
    as the punchbag to take out their frustrations
    8. Those who are unhappy with the specialists advise or management and want a more expert assessment from the GP

    Someone should make read codes for these types
    and insist we code them

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  • CENSORSHIP?

    9. Those who come on time
    10. Those who come late

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  • Well said Tony as usual. I love DNAs. They keep me alive and help me to cope.

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