Most NHS workers support fines for those missing appointments

Christien PhebyContent Manager
May 27, 2020, 9:50 AM UTC

Two-thirds say those who miss appointments regularly should be given lower priority than others

The NHS claims that patients waste over 15 million GP appointments every year by failing to attend appointments. At an average cost of £30 per appointment, this adds up to an annual £216m. Doctors and other medical professionals have suggested that fines should be introduced to solve the problem.

A new YouGov poll of British healthcare workers indicates that eight in ten NHS workers (79%) believe missed appointments are a major problem for the service. Seven out of ten (70%) also believe no-show patients who fail to provide advance warning should be fined, while 7% think they should be penalised for non-attendance in all circumstances.

When we asked those who support a fine how large they should be, six in ten (60%) back a flat fee unconnected to the true cost of the appointment. But a fifth (19%) say they should pay the full cost to the NHS, whatever it is, and a further 17% say they should pay a portion of the cost.  

Two-thirds (67%) of healthcare workers (NHS and private) believe that NHS patients who fail to turn up without a good reason should be given lower priority than other patients. This rises to three-quarters (75%) of staff who don’t provide treatment, such as administrative, clerical or HR workers.

Timing may well play a role here: the poll was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic and around a week before the government announced the lockdown. In the past few months, the NHS has built a new hospital, GPs have been urged to take their practices online, and the Government has advised Brits not to call the 111 phone service if they’re displaying mild symptoms. If missed appointments are an inconvenience at the best of times, they may be a rather more serious concern in a crisis. 

See the full results here