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Out-patients: Attendance

Question for Department of Health

UIN 51300, tabled on 1 November 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent steps his Department has taken to ensure patients attend (a) GP and (b) acute services appointments.

Answered on

4 November 2016

With regard to general practice, NHS England is promoting the use of online booking and cancellation of appointments. Evidence shows that patients are more likely to cancel an appointment which is no longer needed, if the appointment was booked online. Furthermore, some general practitioner (GP) surgeries display information about lost clinic time potentially resulting from cancelled appointments which cannot be re-filled or from patients not attending appointments without any prior notification. The Department does not collect information on the number of missed and cancelled GP appointments.

With regard to acute services, the NHS Constitution emphasises patients’ responsibilities to the National Health Service, including that they “should keep appointments, or cancel within reasonable time”. It is the responsibility of NHS organisations locally to plan for and take action to minimise the number of patients who fail to attend their appointments, for example, by reminding patients of their forthcoming appointments through the use of text message reminder systems. NHS England publishes quarterly data on hospital outpatient appointments. The proportion of hospital outpatient appointments that patients did not attend has fallen from 10.6% in 2008-09 to 8.9% in 2015-16.