Cutting missed GP appointments can save NHS millions

A STUDY by NHS Bedfordshire could help reduce the £700 million of NHS cash wasted each year due to missed patient appointments.

In any 12-month period, up to six million GP and hospital appointments are missed at an estimated cost of more than £700 million country-wide.

In addition to the cost implications, GPs often cite DNAs (Did Not Attends) as a major problem which can lead to longer waiting lists, risks that the early signs of serious illnesses will be missed.

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In a project carried out at the Wheatfield Surgery in Luton and Toddington Medical Centre, researchers looked at the impact of using behaviour change techniques to reduce DNAs (Did Not Attends).

The techniques resulted in a reduction of 30 per cent in the number of no-shows, which replicated country-wide could deliver savings of up to £250 million a year.

The techniques used in the study were: getting patients to confirm their appointment by verbally repeating the details to the receptionist, getting patients to write the appointment down themselves, and placing positive messages around the GP practices that attending appointments is the ‘social norm’.

Nadia Shaw, practice manager at Toddington Medical Centre, said: “Given how simple the interventions were we weren’t too sure how successful they would be but they proved to be an amazing turnaround for us”.