NHS Chief Executive Wants ‘Urgent Action’ For Missed GP Appointments

4 December 2013

NHS Chief Executive Wants ‘Urgent Action’ For Missed GP Appointments

The Chief Executive of the NHS in Wales, Mr David Sissling, has urged the need for swift action to improve GP care towards patients, after raising the ongoing issue of both missed and significantly delayed appointments for patients across the NHS in Wales.

Mr Sissling was speaking to the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee and whilst giving evidence, noted that the issue was extremely worrying and required ‘urgent action’ to address it. He opined that some patients were having to deal with significant delays in appointments with their GP, losing out on appointments altogether or having to miss appointments due to inefficient organisation across GP practices. 

The British Medical Association (BMA) had provided earlier evidence that 11% of appointments were missed in Wales, which represented the highest figure of its kind in the UK.

Speaking to the Committee chair Mr Darren Millar, Mr Sissling said:

 “It’s a matter of concern and it is clearly the responsibility of the health boards and the practices to address that. It’s an area we’re drawing to their attention as a matter for urgent action.

“Our insight into this is that a number of things will help. We believe the greater use of online booking will be a great assistance. There is general evidence that online booking reduces the level of appointments which are not attended. There is also important evidence of good practice which we can adopt throughout Wales in terms of the use of text reminders, and we’re doing an awful lot to share good practice.

“There is something of a paradox, that we have on the one hand appropriate access to appointments, but then we have a significant number of people having made an appointment not turning up which is clearly frustrating for us, practices, health boards and for members of the public. We need to pay more attention to this as there is clearly scope that can be used to the benefit of other patients.”

Mr Sissling’s comments are particularly appropriate in light of the impending winter pressures on the NHS with a predicted fall in temperatures, and stated that it was important to ensure access of services outside of working hours was continually worked upon.

He said: “We know there are parts of the population that would welcome appointments out of hours and we need to look at individual need. Next year we will be focusing on the opportunity to develop more services on the weekend.”

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