Rishi Sunak’s plan to fine patients £10 for missing appointments is condemned by NHS leaders

"Charging patients for missed appointments would not only undermine the essential trust between doctor and patient, but ultimately threaten the fundamental principle that the NHS delivers free care at the point of need, for all.”

A photo of Rishi Sunak leaving Downing Street

With the Tory leadership race well under way, the two candidates, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are engaged in a race to the bottom in a bid to appeal to the 160,000 odd Tory party members who will decide the future of our country.

Truss has been busy promising tax cuts to the tune of £30 billion, while Sunak who is trailing in opinion polls of Tory party members, has been promising anything and everything, vowing to cut the basic rate of income tax from 20% to 16% by the end of the next Parliament.

It smacks of growing desperation from Sunak, who now also wants to fine people £10 for missing appointments, a move that has received a backlash from NHS leaders.

NHS Confederation policy director Dr Layla McCay told the Mirror: “The administrative burden this would place on the NHS risks being considerable.

“And [it] could well far outweigh the money brought in by the fines.”

Dr Gary Howsam, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs said: “GPs and our teams are working under intense workload and workforce pressures, delivering increasingly complex care to increasing numbers of patients while numbers of qualified, full time equivalent family doctors is falling despite the Government’s manifesto promise of 6,000 more GPs by 2024.

“When patients miss appointments, it’s frustrating as these are appointments that could have been used for other patients. But charging for appointments is not the answer. It would fundamentally change the principle that the NHS is free at the point of need and would likely impact on our most vulnerable patients most – and it would add another layer of bureaucracy to a GP service already drowning in red tape.

“We also need to remember there are many reasons why this might happen. For some patients, missing appointments can be a sign that something more serious is going on, and that follow-up action is needed. For some, it will have been a case of human error. For others, particularly if the appointment was longstanding, it may have no longer been needed.”

Professor Philip Banfield, British Medical Association council chair said: “Charging patients for missed appointments would not only undermine the essential trust between doctor and patient, but ultimately threaten the fundamental principle that the NHS delivers free care at the point of need, for all.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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