Your GP appointment - keep it or cancel it

GPs across central Norfolk are reminding patients who have booked an appointment to keep it or cancel it.

Everyone knows that GPs and practice nurses are really busy. They try to offer as many appointments as possible on the day, or to suit each patient.
But if people fail to show, it means someone else could have had that appointment.

Added up, the number of minutes attributed to ‘did not attends’ by GP practices in central Norfolk equates to something like 7 doctors a year.

Dr Simon Cooke is a GP at Oak Street surgery in Norwich and Chair of OneNorwich, the alliance of GP practices in the city. He said: “We have one simple message about this to all of our patients: Keep It or Cancel It.

“Appointments are at a real premium at the moment and we want every appointment to count.”

A snapshot survey of GP practices in Norwich, North Norfolk and South Norfolk shows the startling facts about people who ‘do not attend’ and the wastage it causes. 24 out of 63 practices responded to our survey.

During March and August 2017, they offered a total of 223,083 appointments.

  • Out of these, 8453 appointments were marked as ‘did not attend’ 
  • ‘Did not attends’ during March and August 2017 equated to 120,000 minutes of doctor or nurse time
  • We believe about 3.8% of patients – on average - do not attend their appointment.

We tried scaling up the numbers to represent all 63 practices in central Norfolk over a whole year. We made some significant adjustments using different methods of calculation, to account for data errors or inconsistencies which might be scaled out of proportion. The conclusions we have drawn are:

  • We estimate there were about 2.5 million appointments offered to patients from the 63 GP practices in central Norfolk (North Norfolk, Norwich and South Norfolk)
  • As an average our data suggests each GP practice may have seven or eight appointments per day marked as ‘did not attend’
  • The data suggests the total time wasted might equate to appointments for seven full time GPs across central Norfolk.

Our data is based entirely on a snapshot in time; it must be taken as a rough guide only. It is based on a limited survey of all 63 GP practices in central Norfolk, to which 24 responded.Of course, all practices try to use the time lost to carry out other work, such as dealing with clinical correspondence.