Charging patients for missed appointments is not the answer to tackling the NHS backlog, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

 

Location: England
Published: Sunday 31 July 2022

Responding to news that, in a bid to tackle the NHS backlog, a £10 fee could be introduced for patients who do not attend GP or hospital appointments, Professor Philip Banfield, BMA council chair, said:

“It’s terribly disappointing that the candidates standing to be the next prime minister seem to have so little understanding of the reality facing our NHS, or what it will take to turnaround the impact of the Government’s repeated mistakes and the now mammoth backlog of care.

“This latest suggestion would likely make matters worse. Charging patients for missed appointments would not only undermine the essential trust between doctor and patient, but ultimately threaten the fundamental principle that the NHS delivers free care at the point of need, for all. The BMA has always stood firmly against the idea of charging patients for missed appointments. 

“While it is frustrating when patients do not attend, the reasons why this happens should be investigated rather than simply resorting to punishing them. Financially penalising patients inevitably impacts the poorest and most vulnerable in the community. This may discourage them from rebooking, exacerbating already worsening health inequalities and costing the NHS more. 

“Instead of reheating ideas that are of no practical value, the next prime minister should be urgently seeking to restore the confidence of the profession in this Government by tackling the huge losses in pay suffered over the last decade, scrapping the unfair pensions tax rules forcing many experienced clinicians out of the NHS, and ensuring the NHS is adequately resourced for the huge challenges it faces.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.