GP appointments - Keep it or cancel it!

General Practices are reminding patients who have booked an appointment to keep it or cancel it.  It is common knowledge that GPs and practice nurses are busy. They try to offer as many appointments as possible daily, or to accommodate a patient’s requirements. Yet failure to attend appointments results in a wasted opportunity for other patients.

In total, the number of minutes attributed to ‘did not attends’ by GP practices in central Norfolk equates to roughly 7 doctors a year.

Dr Simon Cooke is a GP at Oak Street surgery in Norwich and Chair of OneNorwich. He stated: “We have one simple message about this to all of our patients: Keep It or Cancel It.  Appointments are at a real premium at the moment and we want every appointment to count.”

A snapshot survey of GP practices in Norwich, North Norfolk and South Norfolk displays the startling figures regarding patients who ‘do not attend’ and the resulting wastage of time and resources. 24 out of 63 practices responded to our survey.

  • During March and August 2017, they offered a total of 223,083 appointments.
  • Out of these, 8453 appointments were marked as ‘did not attend’.
  • ‘Did not attends’ during March and August 2017 equated to 120,000 minutes of doctor or nurse time.
  • We believe about 3.8% of patients – on average - do not attend their appointment.

 The conclusions we have drawn are:

  • We estimate there were about 2.5 million appointments offered to patients from the 63 GP practices in Central Norfolk (North Norfolk, Norwich and South Norfolk).
  • As an average our data suggests each GP practice may have seven or eight appointments per day marked as ‘did not attend’.
  • The data suggests the total time wasted might equate to appointments for seven full time GPs across central Norfolk.

Our data is based entirely on a snapshot in time; it must be taken as a rough guide only. It is based on a limited survey of all 63 GP practices in central Norfolk, to which 24 responded.

Of course, all practices try to utilise the time lost to carry out other work, such as dealing with clinical correspondence.

However, if patients fail to attend their appointment the impact on other patients waiting for an appointment would be worsened.