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1.2 million missed NHS appointments: Irresponsible patients should be charged

Welsh Conservatives have called on Labour ministers to get to grips with the problem of missed appointments, as new figures reveal the true extent of the issue in Wales.

1.2 million out-patient appointments were missed over the last three years, costing the National Health Service over 180 million pounds. That’s according to figures obtained by the Shadow Minister for Health.

A pilot scheme – charging irresponsible patients who miss out-patient appointments – would be introduced under Welsh Conservatives. Those without a reasonable excuse for missing appointments would face a 10 pounds charge in a bid to deter poor patient behaviour and make a small contribution towards the cost of NHS resources wasted.

According to health service figures – obtained via the Freedom of Information Act - the highest number of missed appointments was in the Cardiff & University Health Board area, where there were almost 100,000 last year alone. Since 2012/13, Aneurin Bevan Health Board had the second highest number, at 280,547.

Responding to a Welsh Conservative written assembly question on appointment costs, the Health Minister said:

In 2013-14, the average cost of a general medicine appointment was £213 for a first appointment and £145 for a follow-up appointment. For the same year, the average cost of a general surgery first appointment was £164 and the average cost of a general surgery follow-up appointment was £133.

An inquiry last year by the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee established that patients fail to turn up for more than one in ten GP appointments – up to 600,000 per year.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Health, Darren Millar AM, said:

“The problem of missed appointments is getting worse year after year, yet Labour ministers are doing nothing to get to grips with the problem.

“Welsh Conservatives would introduce a pilot scheme – ensuring those who waste valuable NHS time and resources face a penalty for their behaviour.

“We all have a right to use the National Health Service - but we must do so responsibly. While some people who miss appointments do so through no fault of their own, the reality is that many do not.

“Missing an appointment doesn’t just waste the time of doctors and nurses and have potentially harmful outcomes for those who fail to turn up, it also deprives other patients of an opportunity to get their appointment, wastes taxpayers’ money and keeps waiting lists longer than they should be.

“Labour’s record-breaking NHS budget cuts continue to heap pressure on frontline staff and our duty to use the NHS responsibly is more important t