This site is intended for health professionals only

Fining patients who miss health appointments most popular option for boosting funding, says survey

by Julie Griffiths
15 February 2023

Share this article

Half the British public (51%) support a £10 fine for missed GP and hospital appointments to secure additional funding for the NHS, finds an Ipsos survey

It also showed more than three quarters (77%) would be willing to see their GP virtually to help with NHS funding issues. This includes 59% who would be happy to do this for a minor ailment and 54% for advice on an ongoing problem or condition. 

Just under one in five (18%) said they were unwilling to speak to a GP virtually in any circumstances. 

Among those who were happy to use a video consultation, nine in 10 people said they would be willing to see a GP they did not know.  

The survey of more than 1,000 adults aged 18 to 75 in Great Britain sought views on how to raise more funding for the NHS and was carried out earlier this month.

It showed the least popular options were paying £10 to see a GP – only 15% were in favour with 71% strongly against it – and increasing prescription charges. Only 12% supported a rise in prescription charges from £9.35 to £15, while nearly three quarters (72%) firmly opposed this.

Although support was highest for charging people who miss appointments, the RCGP is against the idea. 

RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne said: ‘This would have the biggest impact on our most vulnerable patients and only increase the administrative burden on GPs and their teams who are already working under immense pressures. Who would police this, and make sure patients paid up?’ 

Prof Hawthorne also expressed frustration at the survey finding that accessing GPs was difficult. 

It found just under half of respondents (45%) had avoided making a GP appointment over the past year. This includes nearly a quarter (23%) who said it was because they found it too difficult, while 13% said they were worried about being a burden on the NHS.  Just over a tenth (11%) said it was because they didn’t have time.

Prof Hawthorne said: ‘It’s as frustrating for GPs and our teams as it is for our patients, when people have difficulty accessing our care and services. We want to be able to provide safe, timely and appropriate care to our patients when they need it. But decades of underfunding and poor workforce planning has left general practice in crisis.’