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My 2016 prediction: Everyone will be charged £60 for each missed appointment



The powers that be will conclude that this is the only way. The number of missed appointments is getting silly, with dozens of wasted slots each month. While I don’t know a doctor who doesn’t use the time to catch up – or who just breathes a sigh of relief – it costs the NHS money. So we will ask for it back.

The decision to charge £60 for DNAs will be made jointly by LMCs, the CCG and even local patient organisations. The money will be paid directly back into the local NHS, rather than into the income of the practice – a bit like the plastic bag tax. Or the lottery. Or a library fine.

The NHS will hire muscle to extract fines from the sick

Every patient that DNAs, regardless of reason, will have to pay up. No exceptions. Car crash? Pay the price. Frail elderly? Cough up. Dementia? Hand it over. Admitted to hospital as an emergency? No excuse, you still have to pay. Died? That’ll be 60 quid I’m afraid.

As a result, the poorest, sickest and most vulnerable, those I’d sworn to look after, will stop coming. That said, it will be easier to get an appointment, and those that can afford it won’t care about the fine.

Revenue-protection officers will be employed, like those scary people who patrol trains. The NHS will hire muscle to extract fines from the sick and there’ll even be talk of stopping patients getting any care until they pay up. Ambulances equipped with credit card readers could join in by charging if they feel you aren’t sick enough to need their services.

Another step on the slippery slope to privatisation? Nah, just healthy market competition, we will be told.

Dr Matt Piccaver is a GP in Glemsford, Suffolk