8 February 2016

RCGP Comment on Charging for Missed Appointments

Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to the results of a poll commissioned by the Astellas Innovation Debate.

She said: “GPs and our teams are making in excess of 370m patient consultations a year – 60m more than five years ago – but our workforce has remained relatively stagnant and as a result, our patients are still finding it increasingly difficult to make a GP appointment.

“When patients don’t turn up for appointments, it can be frustrating– for both GPs and for patients who could have had the appointment otherwise – but charging a penalty for this is not the answer.

“Charging for missed appointments would be hard to administer for very little return and would add an extra layer of bureaucracy for GPs and their teams who are already struggling with heavy workloads in order to meet rising patient demand.

“Practices are also working hard to reduce non-attendance by using methods such as text and email reminders.

“Charging for appointments – missed or otherwise – would fundamentally change one of the founding principles of the NHS, that access is free at the point of need. Doctors enter medicine to deliver care to patients – not to check that people are able to pay before they receive treatment.

“What is really needed to keep our health service sustainable and safe for patients, is for more investment in general practice and initiatives to be implemented to significantly boost the GP workforce, so that we can deliver the care our patients need and deserve.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.