Figures provided by GP practices suggest that more than 6,000 GP appointments are missed across Kirklees every month.

In 2014, figures from NHS England suggested that more than twelve million GP appointments are missed each year in the UK, at a cost to the NHS of over £160 million per year. Unfortunately, things haven’t improved over the past few years and missed appointments are still a big issue for the NHS.

We all forget things from time to time so it’s no surprise that the main reason people gave for missing an appointment was that they simply forgot all about it. Some people fail to turn up for appointments if they no longer need to see a doctor, and others know they will be unable to make it on time but then forget to cancel it.

To help tackle the problem, NHS Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS North Kirklees CCG have launched an awareness campaign to encourage local people to take steps to remember their GP appointments, and to cancel appointments they cannot make or no longer need. Practices will then be able to offer those vacant slots to other patients who need to see a doctor and help to reduce appointment waiting times for everyone.

Dr Steve Ollerton, local GP and Clinical Leader, NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG said:
“Patients often tell us that they struggle to get an appointment with their GP so having such a high number of missed appointments in Kirklees has a big impact on patients and practices. The fact that so many patients forget that they have an appointment, or don’t turn up because they can’t make it or no longer need it, means that other people can’t be seen. Reducing the number of missed GP appointments in Kirklees will mean that more people can get the help they need from their GP quickly.”

When people fail to turn up for appointments this has a big impact on the care GPs are able to give others. It’s also a waste of a GP’s valuable time – and a waste of money. We can all help to make a difference by taking a few steps to reduce the chances of forgetting.

  • Ask your GP practice about the best ways to cancel unwanted appointments and make sure they have your up-to-date contact details.
  • Make sure you make a note of your appointment either in a diary, calendar or on your smart phone and ideally set yourself a reminder.
  • Ask your GP practice if they have a text message reminder service. Some practices also offer a service which allows you to cancel an appointment by text.
  • Register for online services. Your GP practice will explain how you can do this and once you’re registered, appointments can be made or cancelled in a few clicks, 24/7.

Dr David Kelly, local GP and Chair of NHS North Kirklees CCG said:
“We’re all so busy these days that forgetting to turn up for a GP appointment, or cancel it, is easily done. Booking appointments online helps to reduce the number of missed appointments because it’s really easy to cancel or re-book an appointment online at a time to suit you. You don’t need to wait until the practice opens or wait in a call queue, you can go online and cancel the appointment there and then.”

All GP practices in Kirklees offer online services to make it easier to book and cancel appointments. Once registered, you’ll be able to do more than just booking and cancelling appointments via your computer, smartphone or tablet. Patients can order repeat prescriptions online and view parts of their GP health record, including information about medication, allergies, vaccinations, previous illnesses and test results. For more information visit the NHS Choices website.

The knock on effect of missed GP appointment is that some patients who cannot get an appointment choose to go to A&E instead. As we prepare for winter and the additional pressures it brings for our already over-stretched hospital services, we must all do what we can to help divert non-emergency cases from A&E. This is why having as many available GP appointments as possible is so important for everyone.