With demand for their appointments at an all-time high, GP practices are urging patients to please cancel unwanted appointments so others can book them.
It comes after recent appointment data showed that so far this year 117,000 appointments have been missed across Cornwall.
Almost 15,000 people were no-shows in the month of September alone. That amounts to more than 600 days of lost appointment time which could have been used by other patients, say NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, who want to raise awareness of the problem.
Lorna Boulton, reception manager at Atlantic Medical Group in Penzance says:
“Our staff are seeing more patients than ever before. But the number of appointments not attended is quite alarming.
“We would much rather someone cancels or rearranges their appointment if they need to, so that another patient can be seen instead. This could make such a big difference to everyone involved.”
The unwelcome trend has been steadily growing. In September 2022 there were 13,450 ‘did not attends’, showing an increase of more than 11% for the same month this year.
Dr Andy Sant is NHS Cornwall’s primary care partner and a local GP. A doctor for 28 years, he says:
“General practice has never been so busy. Around 110,000 patients see a clinician, face to face or by telephone or video, across our county every single week. That’s an average of 2,000 for every GP practice, and roughly three-quarters of that number is face to face.
“So, your GP surgery is very much there for you, with a range of experts and appointments to suit all sorts of need. But I really can’t stress enough how vital it is to cancel your appointment if it no longer suits.”
The ways to cancel or rebook will vary from practice to practice. Usually the options range from telephone to online, and some send a link in a reminder text. NHS Cornwall is working with local GP practices to build on the range of options provided.