Missed GP appointments are frustrating – but there may be underlying reasons why patients don't turn up, says College

Publication date: 12 January 2020

Read our full response to a story in today's Sunday Times on numbers of patients who book – then miss - GP appointments

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Missed appointments are very frustrating, especially when GPs could be seeing other patients - but, for some patients, there may be more complex reasons for non-attendance.

"In many cases, missed appointments will be simple human error, and practices are working hard to ensure that patients are aware of their appointments by sending reminders by text and email or encouraging them to make appointments through the surgery app.

"However, non-attendance can also indicate something more serious, such as underlying mental health issues, and it would be helpful if practices had more time and resource to follow up patients they might have particular concerns about and determine their reasons for not using their appointment. 

"At a time when we have a severe shortage of GPs and patients in many areas of the country are having to wait weeks to see their family doctor, we would urge patients who no longer need their appointment to contact the surgery at the earliest possible opportunity so that valuable GP time can be used for the benefit of other patients."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7494/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659
press@rcgp.org.uk

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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