Missed Appointments Costing Money

January 21st, 2011
Missed Appointments Costing Money

With a shortage of money at the heart of many of the UK’s public services, it doesn’t help when people miss appointments.

A survey commissioned by the British Dental Association has found that NHS dentists in England are losing as much as two weeks work per year when people miss appointments. This amounts to some 3.5 million appointments missed every year. Further, others who are in need of dental treatment are in effect being denied proper access.

Patients were at one time charged if they missed an appointment, but this was abolished in 2006. Dentists believe this has exacerbated the precarious financial situation.

Speaking to reporters, the chairperson of the BDA’s general dental practice committee, John Milne said: “Sometimes there are genuine reasons why it’s just not possible for a patient to keep an appointment with their dentist and everybody understands that, but the results of this research suggest that the scale of this problem is significant.”

He added: “Dental surgeries use letters, telephone calls and even text messages to remind patients of forthcoming appointments, so it’s really disappointing to see that so many people appear prepared to deny others access to care by failing to show up.

“This not only wastes dentists’ time, but also taxpayers’ money. With many people still failing to secure the dental appointments they want, and the public purse under pressure, that’s simply unacceptable.”

Interestingly, the BDA research also appears to show that the ‘missed appointment’ problem is largely due to new patients being taken on by a practice, rather than long standing patients.

John Milne added: “This problem needs to be tackled and the BDA believes that the Government should consider reintroducing a fee for patients who miss appointments to deter them from doing so.”

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