More than 12,000 GP appointments are wasted every month across Mid and south Essex due to people failing to show up to their surgeries after booking appointments with a GP.
Missed GP and practice nurse appointments are estimated to cost the NHS about £160m per year. Aside from the cost, cancelling an appointment you no longer need will free it up for someone else who may need it urgently.
GP leaders say the missed appointments are contributing to increased waiting times in practices and could be contributing to more people with minor illnesses going to local A&E departments for treatment.
Dr Sunil Gupta, Chair of NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG, said:
“Waiting times for a GP appointment may be an issue from time to time so it is frustrating when a high number of patients are not showing up for their appointments but are not cancelling them either. “Sometimes, patients will have a good reason for not attending their GP surgery, however I urge those who no longer need pre-booked appointments to cancel them to free them up for other patients that may have an urgent need.”
To avoid a missed appointment, follow some simple advice such as making sure appointments are noted either in a diary, calendar or on a smart phone and set a reminder.
It’s easy to register for online services. Patients can speak to their GP practice about how to do this and appointments can be easily cancelled at the touch of a button 24/7.
Also ask the GP practice if they have a text message reminder service. GP online services allow access a range of services via a computer or mobile device. Once signed up, patients can book or cancel appointments with a GP or nurse and renew or order repeat prescriptions.
Patients may also view parts of their GP health record, including information about medication, allergies, vaccinations, previous illnesses and test results. The service is free. Everyone who is registered with a GP can have access to their practice's online services. Online services are offered in addition to more traditional face-to-face and telephone ways in which patients interact with their GP practice.
Patients are also encouraged to download the NHS App from the Apple and Google Play stores to their tablet or smartphone device. The App will allow registered patients to:
- book and manage appointments at their GP practice;
- order their repeat prescriptions;
- securely view their GP medical record;
- check their symptoms using NHS 111 online and the health A-Z on the NHS website;
- register as an organ donor, and;
- choose whether the NHS uses their data for research and planning.