A group of GP surgeries in the Plymouth area are urging patients to let them know if they are aren’t attending appointments – to free up space for others who need to see a doctor or other frontline health professional.
Beacon Medical Group – run by local GPs – says around 700 patients a month don’t turn up to appointments at its six practices. A few patients have had up to 20 appointment ‘no shows’ a year.
Dr Andrew Mercer, a GP Partner at Beacon, said: “Every appointment at our GP practices is precious – so when someone doesn’t attend without cancelling this is a strain on our resources and affects the level of service we can provide.
“It’s frustrating for other patients who are trying to secure an appointment for themselves and for our GPs and frontline teams.
“There may be an entirely genuine reason for not attending an appointment, but we respectfully ask patients to let their practice know as soon as possible if they can’t attend or no longer need it, so it can be offered to someone else.
“Otherwise the GP or another frontline health professional will be waiting for the patient to arrive, when they could have been seeing someone else.
“The vast majority of our patients attend their appointments or let us know if they cannot or no longer need them – we really appreciate this, as it means we can free those appointments up.”
Over 50% of Beacon’s 43,000 patients have signed up to an appointment text-reminder service. Patients should ensure their surgery has their up to date contact details including mobile numbers if they are happy to be contacted in this way.
If patients repeatedly fail to attend appointments, they could be removed from their practice list and may be required to find an alternative GP, as a last resort.
Dr Mercer added: “Demand for appointments is high, but I would like to reassure patients that they are prioritised according to their clinical needs – everyone who needs an appointment on the day gets seen on the same day.”
The practices under Beacon’s portfolio are Plympton Health Centre, Chaddlewood Surgery, Glenside Medical Centre, Ivybridge Health Centre, Wotter Surgery and Highlands Health Centre.