An eye for an eye? Why we're just not tough enough on the ignorant masses missing NHS appointments

If the punishment for failing to turn up for a GP appointment was to have your corneas removed, the '˜no-show' issue plaguing the NHS would be solved in an instant.

Thursday, 4th January 2018, 10:03 am
Updated Thursday, 4th January 2018, 10:50 am

Drastic, yes, but when common courtesy fails to hit home, tougher action is needed.

In Sunderland alone, 38,000 appointments have been missed in just one year. The cost to the NHS is an eye-watering £1.14million. And all for the want of a phone call.

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Across the UK, missed appointment cost the NHS - which, in case you weren’t aware, is funded by us the taxpayers - a shameful £1billion a year.

In practical terms, that cash, according to the chief nursing officer for England, could have funded 250,000 hip replacements or a million more cataract ops.

Obviously we’re joking about the cataract removal punishment (our hard-pressed surgeons would struggle to meet demand anyway) but given the cost to the NHS, tougher sanctions are surely needed.

NHS chiefs appear to prefer to take the educational route. They hope making people aware of the cost will spur them into action. Others are calling on people to download an app that reminds patients about appointments.

We’re happy to highlight the scale of the problem and possible solutions, but is it enough? The evidence of history suggests otherwise. There are those in the NHS who believe a financial penalty for failing to turn up (each missed appointment costs about £30), would tackle the problem.

It was an idea hinted at in 2015, but rejected by then-PM David Cameron.

The time is now surely right to reconsider hitting offenders in the pocket.

Or should we keep eye surgeons on standby for more drastic measures?