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“2020health is an important and thoughtful contributor to the health debate”

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chairman, Health Select Committee


BBC Radio Kent Interview 5.5 million hospital appointments are wasted every year by people not turning up

Gail Beer, Consultant Director at 2020health, discusses wasted hospital appointments.

This is not a new issue and the NHS has been trying to tackle it for years. New technologies such as texting are useful but they have been in use for some time and we have not seen the drop in DNAs we should have; choose and book means that you book your own appointment or pick a time to suit you and still people do not attend. Follow up appointments are made by the patients at the desk and they still default at a rate of 4.5 million a year. The technologies are useful but do not solve the problem. We need to understand why people do not attend. Over medicalising and over referral could be issues. Need a better grasp of why even when reminded, patients don’t appear.

Hospitals could fine patients but this would in effect be wasteful as the fine would have to be so large as to make it worthwhile to raise and invoice and then chasing bad debtors is an expensive business. This could end up costing the NHS more. We need to get patients to understand the waste and not be worried about turning down an appointment.