NHS England using technology to beat cost of missed appointments

Public urged to help NHS England cut no-show appointments

Technology is being used to cut the numbers of missed GP and outpatient appointments, NHS England will announced Monday.

Figures have suggested that more than twelve million GP appointments are missed each year in the UK, costing in excess of £162 million per year. A further 6.9 million outpatient hospital appointments are missed each year in the UK, costing an average of £108 per appointment in 2012/13.

By making the appointment system fit into patient’s lives more easily, the NHS hopes to cut the numbers of missed appointments, saving precious NHS resources.

Missed appointments, known as Did Not Attends (DNAs) can cause serious delays in treatment for other patients.

Simple initiatives such as sending email and text reminders are now used by many clinics, and are already beginning to have an impact: outpatient DNAs have fallen to 9.1% from 10.5% in 2008/9.

Now, the NHS is rolling out solutions which let patients check, book and cancel appointments at their own convenience and order repeat medication online.

Doctors are also making the most of the rise of smartphones and tablets to connect with patients: outpatient consultations via Skype are becoming increasingly common for patients who don’t need a physical examination.

Telecare and telehealth services are also expanding, which means patients can monitor their health at home and access medical advice without regular visits to their surgery.

Beverley Bryant, NHS England, said: “It’s important that people realise that not turning up to appointments can have a big impact on the care and treatment we are able to give other patients. It wastes Doctors’ and Nurses’ time too, which costs taxpayers money.

“Patient care is always at the top of our agenda.  That‘s why we are doing everything we can to make our service match with people’s lifestyles and the technology they use, to give more people easy access to the services they need.  We hope the public will do their bit too by making sure they attend or cancel appointments in good time. That way, everybody benefits.”

In an effort to get the message across to the wider public of the cost of missed appointments, the NHS is using Change Day 2014 to appeal to patients. Change Day asks patients, staff and providers commit to one action that will improve care within the NHS. This year, NHS England is encouraging patients to pledge to turn up to their appointments and help push DNA numbers as low as possible. The scheme, in its second year, has already seen 225,000 people make a personal pledge to improve the NHS, which prior to launch is already up on last year’s total of 189,000 pledges.


  1. John Sheen says:

    The NHS has bent over backwards to minimise this problem with little effect. Yes, many people have contributed through National Insurance contributions to an effective and efficient National Health Service. However, If they cannot demonstrate responsibility and their cavalier attitude clearly affects other patients, at a cost of £162 million, It should apply the policy “three missed appointments” without a cancellation phone call and you find another practice. This should focus the mind.

  2. David Brown says:

    Missed doctors appointments cost the NHS approximately £13.50 each do they…..? I would have assumed basic maths was a prerequisite for writing one of these articles – my mistake.

  3. Ron wilkinson says:

    This is becoming like “groundhog day” and it,s been going on for years to my knowledge! More so called new initiatives that make little difference and now the Pledge, more waste of time and money,well never mind it,s public funds who cares? Talk meetings and more talk and what has been achieved over the past 10 years ?very little in fact all my information tells me it is becoming worse. Why? because there appears to be a failure to recognise that the majority of DNA,s are simply down to a lack of responsibility,what happens to the offender?nothing! Well they clearly were not sick anyway!!! Financial penalty,the proven way forward!

  4. Mike Cunningham says:

    As a company engaged in this market since 2006 helping Trusts drive down DNA rates, I am interested as to what:

    “Now, the NHS is rolling out solutions which let patients check, book and cancel appointments at their own convenience and order repeat medication online.”

    means. When speaking to Beverley at a recent NHS day, no indication of such projects were given. Looking forward to an update.

  5. Paul Barnett says:

    How many patient appointments have been ‘missed’ because patient transport turned up late or not at all? How many services for which patients still need to travel to hospital/clinics could be provided in the community or in their home?

    Instead of ‘scolding’ patients about missing appointments the question should be asked as to why they miss their appointments (e.g. infirmity makes travel to appointment difficult).