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GPs adopting ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy on DNAs

GPs in Northern Ireland are adopting a ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy to deal with the overwhelming number of patients who fail to attend scheduled appointments.

Dr Tom Black, chair of the Northern Ireland GPC, said that many GPs in the region have introduced the practice as a deterrent to the growing numbers of patients – especially young people in their late teens and early 20s – who do not turn up to booked consultations.

Dr Black told the Belfast Telegraph: ‘If you miss three appointments in a calendar year, you will be asked to leave the practice and avail of services elsewhere. This is what is available to us and generally speaking it is what GPs are using.’

Statistics released by Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) this week suggest that nearly 10,000 DNAs are clocked up every week by GP practices across the region.

More than 5,000 people fail to attend a booked GP appointment, while nearly 4,500 do not attend a scheduled appointment with a practice nurse.

The news has led to calls in the Northern Ireland Assembly to introduce stricter consequences for those who repeatedly miss appointments.

The latest DNA figures were collated via a survey carried out in NI GP surgeries last year and were unveiled by HSCB at the launch of the ‘Choose Well’ campaign, which aims to make patients think carefully about how to use health and social care services if they become ill this winter.