To combat the 1.2 million missed appointments in Welsh hospitals alone in the last three years, the Conservatives plan to bring in a £10 fine for patients in Wales who repeatedly miss NHS appointments if they win power in next year’s assembly elections, according to BBC News. They claim the cost of missed appointment is as high as £60m a year.
The current health minister, however, said that the measure would be difficult to implement while GP bodies criticised the plan. A poll on the health service for ICM Research/BBC Wales earlier this year found 81% of people backed the idea of a fine for those who missed GP or hospital appointments.
Conservative Darren Millar AM said: “We all have a right to use the NHS but we must do so responsibly. While some people who miss appointments do so through no fault of their own, the reality is that many do not.” As well as the waste of time and money, missed appointments also raise the risk of harmful outcomes for the absentee’s health.
Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, commented: “It’s a superficially attractive idea but the minute you start to examine the detail, it crumbles. Would it include children, vulnerable pensioners, people with learning disabilities? If the answer is no, you see how complicated it could be.”
Dr David Bailey, deputy chair of the British Medical Association’s Welsh GP Committee, said: “The relationship between GP and patient is a lifelong one – and damaging that by petty little charges doesn’t seem to me to be the right way forward. When you want somebody to be your advocate and you give your trust – the last thing you want is for him or her to charge you a tenner.”
The Royal College of General Practitioners also pointed out: “Missed appointments can be frustrating but in many cases there are valid reasons for patients not being able to attend – and they can warning signs that something more serious is wrong.”