HUNDREDS of appointments were missed by patients at busy surgeries in just three months.
A total of 313 were arranged but not taken up by patients at the Quay Surgery in Connah’s Quay alone from October to December 2013.October saw 93 patients failing to attend, with a further 118 in November and 102 sessions were not used during December.
During the same period, 88 appointments were listed as ‘did not attend’ (DNA) at the nearby Deeside Medical Centre in Shotton, while in December alone, 204 DNA sessions were recorded at the Pendre Surgery in Mold.
Dr Mark Harney, GP at the Quay Surgery on Fron Road, said the time wasted by patients’ non-attendance was frustrating.
He said: “We are really distressed. We’re trying to provide a top quality service and we’re aware it’s tough to get appointments that are suitable.
“We bend over backwards to get people in for their appointments but when they don’t turn up they are just wasting time. If they miss the 15 minute slots, that’s an awful lot of time wasted.
“I think it’s partly because it’s seen as a free service and a ‘if you don’t come, who cares’ approach. There seems to be a lackadaisical attitude.”
Dr Harney recognised that some patients who don’t attend may have just made an error.
“Of course, some people do genuinely forget but a lot of people book their appointments same day and just don’t bother turning up.
“It’s very, very frustrating and keeps others waiting,” he said.
In December last year, the head of the NHS in Wales, David Sissling, told the Welsh Government that reducing the number of patients not attending for appointments was a “top priority”.
Deeside Medical Centre practice manager Julie Davies said missed appointments were an issue.
She said: “It’s always been a problem and we are looking in to it.
“Appointments are very few and far between and we’re packed full every single day so if people don’t turn up, others are losing out.
“It’s getting out of hand really.”
Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant said wasted appointments impacts everybody involved in the process, not just the patient.
He said: “We all have a responsibility to ensure that the pressured health service is helped to maximise its performance at the new primary healthcare centre in Connah’s Quay.
“As I’m sure many patients are well aware, appointments can be difficult to get when they are needed and therefore a wasted appointment has an impact on the whole system, not just the person who has failed to turn up.
“By all taking responsibility and playing our part in ensuring surgeries and health centres are informed when appointments are no longer needed, we can help enhance the service for everyone.”
Further statistics obtained by Ken Skates AM revealed that in his constituency of Clwyd South, there were at least 1,903 instances of people who did not attend at practices in his constituency from October 1 to December 31.
A Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board spokesman said: “Demand for GP appointments is high and each missed appointment is a wasted opportunity for another patient to have been seen.
“Having to re-book appointments for patients who did not attend then makes it more difficult for other patients to get to see their GP quickly.
“We know that circumstances mean people will sometimes not be able to attend, or no longer need, their appointment – but they should always let their GP practice know as soon as possible so that appointments can be made available to other patients.”