Ignorant Sunderland patients are costing the NHS £5million a year ... let's hit them where it hurts

There were howls of outrage from some quarters when the government revealed tentative thoughts of fining patients who failed to attend NHS appointments.

Thursday, 7th February 2019, 4:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:32 pm
NHS waiting room

The harshest of critics saw it as a stealth tax targeting the most vulnerable in our community.

Some GPs were equally opposed to the move, though most of their concerns were about how such a fining process would be carried out. Our docs have enough on their plate without chasing patients for unpaid fines.

In the end, the plan was quietly shelved.

Is it time to get the stepladders out and revisit that shelf?

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

As we reveal, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has been clobbered with a £5million loss due to thousands of patients not turning up to appointments.

To be fair, it is a problem not unique to Sunderland.

Across the nation’s health providers, more than 5.8million appointments were missed in 2018, costing nigh on £700million.

As unpalatable as fines may be, what’s the alternative? Polite requests clearly aren’t working.

Yes, there will be some genuine reasons for failing to attend, but the majority of no shows will be down to sheer ignorance. People just taking the NHS for granted and putting their own interests first.

Basic good manners should be at play. If you can’t make it, let them know.

Hospitals send out letters with appointment dates and text our reminders, yet still many fail to turn up.

You can be sure that a threat of hefty fines for missed appointments would see an improvement.

Often the worst tasting medicine is the best cure ...