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Fining patients for missing GP appointments not the answer says RCGP

In response to a survey of GPs on charging patients for non-attendance at appointments, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“GPs are conducting more consultations than ever before, yet our patients are waiting longer and longer for appointments as demand inexorably rises. We understand why GPs and our teams get frustrated when patients don’t turn up to their appointments, and are looking for ways to reduce these occurrences, but we don’t believe charging a penalty is the answer.

“GP practices across the country are already implementing some successful schemes to reduce missed appointments, from text messaging reminders to better patient education and awareness posters detailing the unintended consequences of a patient not attending.

“Fining patients for not attending an appointment will adversely affect the most vulnerable in society, and implementing the necessary systems to do this will only continue to overburden GPs and their teams by adding more bureaucracy when we are already facing intense workload pressures.

“In some cases patients not attending appointments can be a warning sign that something could be wrong with a patient and follow-up action is needed.

“Ultimately, we need NHS England’s GP Forward View – promising £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs – to be delivered in full and as a matter of urgency, and we need equivalent promises made and delivered in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so that we can offer more appointments for patients, and deliver the care they need and deserve.”

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