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Missed Doctors’ appointments is top priority for NHS

Reducing the number of patients not turning up for appointments with their Doctor should be a top priority.
Missed Doctors' appointments is top priority for NHSPatients’ non-attendance at appointments is as high as 11% in some doctors’ surgeries.

David Sissling the NHS Wales chief executive was giving evidence to the Welsh Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

He said health boards were trying to tackle the issue but he believed new systems, such as online bookings and text reminders could help reduce the problem.

Mr Sissling said: “We should do a major exercise to better understand the 11%. Sometimes they are the most vulnerable, sometimes they have the greatest needs and sometimes they have chaotic lifestyles.

“I think adopting a blame culture would be inappropriate,” Mr Sissling added.

Recently the British Medical Association (BMA) claimed family doctors in Wales faced a “crisis” and “enormous pressures” meant the profession was “on its knees”.

In an interview with BBC Wales, Dr Charlotte Jones said increasing demand from patients coupled with a shrinking workforce meant GPs were often “too exhausted” to see patients out of hours.

She insisted the problems were particularly acute in rural areas.

Mr Sissling told the committee he was aware that some areas of Wales were facing “particular challenges”, but that the Welsh government was “taking action” to deal with the concerns.

Doctors representatives are currently negotiating with the Welsh government elements of a new GP contract, which will set out what family doctors are expected to deliver.

A Welsh government spokesperson recently suggested the new contract was likely to involve less bureaucracy, so GPs can spend more time with the most vulnerable patients.

Mr Sissling was giving evidence as part of a PAC investigation into “unscheduled care” in the NHS.

It is known that A&E departments last spring struggled to cope with what ministers called “unprecedented demand” from patients, including a large number of elderly people who were very ill or had complicated needs.

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