Health secretary Jeremy Hunt backs charging patients for DNAs

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has backed charging patients for missed GP appointments.

Mr Hunt: 'I don't have a problem in principle with charging people for missed appointments.' Pic: Pete Hill
Mr Hunt: 'I don't have a problem in principle with charging people for missed appointments.' Pic: Pete Hill

Speaking on BBC1's Question Time last night, Mr Hunt said: 'I don't have a problem in principle with charging people for missed appointments although in practical terms that could be difficult to do.

'We've actually taken a step towards that this week by announcing that when people miss an appointment they will be told how much that will cost the NHS.'

Last week a GPonline exclusive found that more than 60,000 GP appointments were wasted every day because patients failed to show up. These 'did-not-attends' are referred to as DNAs.

A GP audience member said: 'The vast majority of patients are responsible and most people do have a good reason for not coming.'

She added: 'The seven-day roll-out is just not viable. It's driving us all out of the country. People are jumping ship every day. On the day you announced your new deal for general practice many people handed in their resignations.'

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrety said patients have a responsibility to 'help us to help them by keeping appointments and informing practices or hospitals when they are unable to attend'.

But, he added: 'Charging for missed appointments is not the solution to this problem. GPs do not want to become debt collectors, and it's more than likely that it would cost more in time and resource to collect such payments than the NHS would recoup. It would be better for the NHS to fund text reminders to patients rather than trying to cut back on this valuable service.'

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