Concern over thousands of missed appointments at Melton’s Latham House Medical Practice

Latham House Medical Practice PICTURE: Tim Williams EMN-150710-100814001
Latham House Medical Practice PICTURE: Tim Williams EMN-150710-100814001
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More than 1,000 patients failed to show up for their appointment with a doctor or nurse at Melton’s Latham House Medical Practice last month.

Practice bosses and the surgery’s patient reference group discussed their concerns this week, with posters being put up in the practice’s reception to make patients aware of the extent of the problem.

Of the 1,096 patients who missed their appointments last month, and who failed to notify the practice beforehand, 468 were doctor appointments with the rest being with either a nurse or healthcare assistant.

Another 1,000-plus patients failed to keep their appointments during June.

Latham House, which has 35,700 registered patients within a seven-mile radius of the town, is Melton’s only GP practice.

In a report published in August, inspectors with the Care Quality Commission highlighted comments by patients who were frustrated at not being able to make an appointment, and that they had to wait at least a fortnight to see their chosen GP.

With so many patients taking appointments up only to miss them, other patients struggling to get appointments are left frustrated because they could have been seen sooner.

Patient Pip Kent (80), who lives in Melton, said: “There’s a notice in the reception stating that more than 1,000 patients had not turned up for their appointment with a doctor or a nurse in June.

“I was astounded by the figure. This many missed appointments must be costing a lot of money and it’s also depriving other people of making an appointment during those times.”

Jane Horn, chairman of the Latham House patient reference group, which represents its patients, said: “This is a matter of concern for us. It’s blocking other patients from getting in themselves. We had a meeting about it this week and we will be giving further information about what the practice and the reference group are trying to do about it in due course.”

Latham House manager Alison Hipkin was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press. The practice’s website advises patients who can’t make appointments to call the surgery on (01664) 503000 or those signed up to its online services can cancel them online.

Earlier this year, health secretary Jeremy Hunt revealed that missed GP and hospital appointments cost the NHS in England almost £1 billion every year.

The revelation came during a speech to the Local Government Association in July, during which he said missed GP appointments cost £162 million and missed hospital appointments £750m.

Mr Hunt also unveiled plans to tell patients who fail to show for appointments without notifying the surgery the cost of their actions to the NHS. He said this was preferable to charging patients for every missed appointment.

Long Clawson Medical Practice, which is a fifth of the size of Latham House, said it did not have a major problem with patients failing to keep appointments - the latest figure shows 55 DNAs (did not attends) during June.

Cancellations can be made quickly and easily on the surgery’s dedicated online app and there are also open access surgeries between 8am and 11am where patients can see one of three GPs at short notice.

Practice manager Caroline Goulding said: “It’s an issue, of course, and every practice wants to reduce the number of DNAs.

“There are times when people don’t attend for their appointment because other commitments in their life take over but every patient should be aware of the inconvenience this causes.

“We would patients to call in and cancel if they can’t make an appointment or do it through the app on our website.”