WITH at least 100 patients missing their appointments at Banbridge Group Surgery each month for the past two years, the practice may now be forced to review its policy on how people book time to see their GP in future.
The warning came as figures revealed almost 700 hours of clinical time have been “wasted” since September 2009 - accounting for thousands of missed appointments. And Practice Manager Nicola Cummings said the missed appointments could have easily been filled by other patients, such is the demand to see doctors in the area.
The number of appointments missed reached a peak in March last year when 213 slots of time were left empty and unused as patients both failed to turn up and failed to notify the surgery.
Ms Cummings said every effort has been made to let patients know how to cancel an appointment. “It couldn’t be any easier,” she told the Leader.
“The surgery has been aware for some time now of the ever increasing number of patients who do not attend their booked appointments with the GP or Practice Nurse.
“Unfortunately these patients do not contact the surgery in advance to cancel their appointments meaning that valuable clinical time is wasted. Had the appointments been cancelled in advance, it would have freed up additional appointments to offer to other patients.”
The surgery writes to patients who frequently miss appointments, as well as publicising figures in the srugery and in the quarterly newsletter.
Ms Cummings said there are now more ways than ever to cancel an appointment.
“Patients are able to cancel their apointments at any time of the day or night via the surgery website - www.banbridgegroupsurgery.co.uk. The surgery now has a text phone meaning that patients can cancel their appointments by sending a text message with details of their appointment to 07955390958. Patients can, of course, still cancel their appointments by telephoning the surgery on 40623303.”
Mrs Cummings added that the appointments policy may be changed if the situation gets worse.
“If the present situation with DNAs (did not attend) continues, the surgery wil have no choice but to review the situation.”