A new campaign is targeting people who don’t cancel their GP appointments and starts today across mid and south Essex.
More than 12,000 slots are wasted every month across the patch due to people failing to turn up to appointments they booked with their GP.
GP leaders say the missed appointments are contributing to increased waiting times in practice and could be contributing to more people with minor illnesses going to local A&E departments for treatment.
Data shows that nearly 2,900 appointments in Thurrock were missed and not cancelled in December 2016 across the 32 GP Practices. This equates to 91 appointments a day in Thurrock alone.
Dr Anand Deshpande, local GP and Chair of NHS Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “As GPs we work hard to meet the needs of our patients and make it as easy as possible for them to see their doctor. But we need patients to do their bit too by letting us know if they need to cancel or rearrange their appointment.
“The knock on effect of someone missing their appointment is that some patients who cannot see their GP choose to go to A&E instead and this puts pressure on the hospital. Patients should make sure they attend an appointment if they book one or cancel it in good time if they no longer need it, so it can be made available to someone else.
There are now many ways of cancelling an appointment, via online services, telephone and even by text in some areas.”
- Make sure you make a note of your appointment either in a diary, calendar or on your smart phone and ideally set yourself a reminder
- Register for online services, speak to your GP practice about how to do this – appointments can be easily cancelled at the touch of a button 24/7
- Ask your GP practice if they have a text message reminder service
NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups across mid and south Essex are working together to raise awareness of the impacts of missed appointments and to help educate local people about tools such as online GP services that help to make cancelling GP appointments easy.
The communications campaign, which is due to launch later this month will include lots of methods to get messages out to the public including bus adverts, a social media campaign and signs on refuse trucks to help raise awareness of how many appointments are being thrown away.
Mandy Ansell, Accountable Officer at Thurrock CCG, added: “The ability to book and cancel GP appointments online is available at most practices and offers a really quick, easy way to manage your health appointments.
“We’re hoping this campaign will help to change some behaviours around wasting GP appointments – if you don’t need it, please do try to cancel it.”