Factors in missed GP appointments

AGE and socio-economic status were significant factors in the one in five patients missing more than two GP appointments, as observed over a three-year period in a recent study published in the Lancet.

Researchers in Glasgow and Lancaster analysed a data set of over 500,000 GP patients in Scotland and found that patients aged 16–30 or over 90 years and of low socio-economic status were significantly more likely to miss multiple appointments. The study also found that urban practices in affluent areas with waiting times of 2–3 days were most likely to have patients who serially miss appointments.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: "Missed appointments do result in valuable time and resources being wasted, but we do need to understand the reasons why this occurs… [Patients] from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to miss appointments and many of these patients are often under pressure financially or in other parts of their lives, factors that often contribute to their non-attendance.

"It is important that the government and NHS works with GPs to find positive ways to encourage appropriate use of GP services and through education campaigns reinforces the importance of attending booked appointments, as well as the negative impact missing appointments have on other patients."

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