France to FINE patients who miss GP appointments £4.30 in bid to free up millions of slots

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France has vowed to fine patients who miss doctors’ appointments in an attempt to free up millions of slots.

Anyone who fails to attend their consultation will get a €5 (£4.30) penalty under the planned move. 

France’s Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said the policy would support the ailing health service as it struggles to cope with the rising demands of an ageing population.

But health experts slammed the move warning it ‘won’t work’ and described it as ‘an attempt to blame’ patients. 

Similar plans have been mooted in the UK amid pleas from doctors themselves.

France ‘s Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said the policy would support the ailing health service as it struggles to cope with the rising demands of an ageing population. But health experts slammed the move warning it ‘won’t work’ and described it as ‘an attempt to blame’ patients

Under France’s yet-to-be approved plan, patients would be obliged to give debit or credit card details when arranging an appointment. 

If they fail to turn up without giving at least 24 hours’ notice, doctors would legally be able to fine them.

Patients with a valid reason for missing their appointment would still be exempt.

Officials hope the fines will kick in from January. The change to the law will be put before French parliament within the coming months. 

Parts of France have been labelled ‘medical deserts’ because they lack doctors and medical facilities, forcing residents to travel great distances for care. 

What does the latest GP appointment data show?

Appointments held: 30.4million

Attended: 90.1 per cent 

Seen by GP: 45.2 per cent

Seen by nurse: 20.4 per cent 

Face-to-face appointment: 66.6 per cent

Phone appointment: 26.1 per cent

Same day: 43.5 per cent

Up to one week wait: 26.3 per cent

One to two week wait: 13.7 per cent

Two to four weeks wait: 12.4 per cent

NHS England data for February

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The government said its aim was to ensure everyone had a doctor within 30 minutes of their home. 

But Gérard Raymond, president of Assos Santé, a patients’ group, said: ‘This is not a way of making patients more responsible but an attempt to blame them and make them feel guilty for the system’s shortcomings.’ 

Patrick Pelloux, head of the emergency doctors’ union, also told local media: ‘This won’t work. It’s just a tax and the health service could suffer.’

Rishi Sunak last year backtracked on his own pledge to introduce a £10 fine for Brits who fail to show at GP appointments, admitting it was ‘not the right time’.

But in August, health minister Maria Caulfield said the plan, first laid out during Mr Sunak’s bid to become Tory party leader, failed to rule it out in the future.

Each missed appointment is estimated to cost the NHS about £30. 

Latest NHS data shows almost 1.3million GP appointments in England were classified as ‘did not attend’ in February, meaning a patient who had previously booked did not show up.

This figure represents 4.2 per cent of all appointments held that month.  

Health experts today warned any proposals to introduce a charging system would be ‘counter-productive’ and a ‘mistake’. 

Ruth Rankine, director of the primary care network at NHS Confederation, said: ‘Our members are clear that introducing a charging system is not the long-term solution and could be counter-productive.

‘Introducing a penalty system could also cost the NHS money as well as add an extra level of bureaucracy for primary care services, with staff having to manage taking and chasing payments on top of all the other work they have to do.’

She warned it could also deter people ‘from seeking help when they need it’.

Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘It’s frustrating when patients miss appointments, especially when they are in such high demand, but it would be a mistake to introduce fines for patients who don’t turn up. 

‘Not only would it defy the founding principle of our health service — to provide care free at the point of need for anyone who needs it — but there may be legitimate reasons for missing an appointment, and it could be an indication something more serious is wrong. 

Rishi Sunak last year backtracked on his own pledge to introduce a £10 fine for Brits who fail to show at GP appointments, admitting it was 'not the right time'. But in August, health minister Maria Caulfield (pictured) said the plan , first laid out during Mr Sunak's bid to become Tory party leader, failed to rule it out in the future

Rishi Sunak last year backtracked on his own pledge to introduce a £10 fine for Brits who fail to show at GP appointments, admitting it was ‘not the right time’. But in August, health minister Maria Caulfield (pictured) said the plan , first laid out during Mr Sunak’s bid to become Tory party leader, failed to rule it out in the future

‘We would always urge patients who can’t make their appointment to let their practice know, as soon as possible, so it can be offered to someone else.

‘NHS pressures need to be addressed with investment and better workforce planning – not by introducing a charging system that will make things worse.’

Meanwhile, Dennis Reed, of Silver Voices, which campaigns for elderly Brits, added: ‘While I have no sympathy for those who regularly fail to turn up for appointments with their GP, it must be recognised that ill and vulnerable people can often experience circumstances which lead to non-attendance. 

‘Examples such as transport delays, carer emergencies, adverse weather or plain forgetfulness would need to be taken into account. 

‘However, unexplained no-shows on a regular basis should lead to sanctions. 

‘Whether a small fine is sufficient for such patients is questionable, threatening to remove them from the practice list unless their behaviour improves would have more impact.’ 

A survey of more than 1,000 Brits last year also found more than half (51 per cent) would support £10 fines for patients who miss GP or hospital appointments. 

The research by Ipsos Mori also saw a quarter of respondents admit they have avoided making a GP appointment in the past 12 months because they found it too difficult.  

It comes as a damning analysis last week revealed almost one in 20 patients are having to wait a month for an appointment.

A survey of more than 1,000 Brits last year also found more than half (51 per cent) would support £10 fines for patients who miss GP or hospital appointments. The research by Ipsos Mori also saw a quarter of respondents admit they have avoided making a GP appointment in the past 12 months because they found it too difficult

A survey of more than 1,000 Brits last year also found more than half (51 per cent) would support £10 fines for patients who miss GP or hospital appointments. The research by Ipsos Mori also saw a quarter of respondents admit they have avoided making a GP appointment in the past 12 months because they found it too difficult

The number of patients facing lengthy waits of a month or more has rocketed by 38 per cent in the last year — from 12.8 to 17.6million appointments.

In parts of the country such as the Vale of York, four-week waits have rocketed by 80 per cent over the same period, according to analysis of NHS data.

GPs have long complained they are overwhelmed due to the pressures of the rising and ageing population and a lack of government funding. 

Family doctors have reported cramming in up to 90 appointments per day, in a situation compared to a conveyor belt. 

Under recommendations implemented by the BMA and European Union of General Practitioners, GPs in the UK today should not deliver more than 25 appointments a day to ensure ‘safe care’.

Patient satisfaction has also plunged to its lowest level in four decades.  

According to the 2023 GP Patient Survey, a poll of 759,000 Brits, just seven in ten (71.3 per cent) described their overall experience of their GP practice as ‘good’ overall. Satisfaction has fallen to an all-time low.

But family doctors have also warned strikes could still be ‘on the table’ after a referendum of GPs, carried out by the British Medical Association, found 99 per cent of the 19,000 respondents rejected the new NHS contract. 

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