High numbers of 'no show' patients at Blackpool GP surgeries leaving others unable to see a doctor warn health chiefs

A shocking 10 per cent of GP appointments in Blackpool are wasted because people do not show up.
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The figure was revealed to councillors who raised concerns about residents in the town struggling to access GP and dental services.

Coun Michele Scott told a meeting of the Adult Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee: “It is really galling to see how many people get a GP appointment and then don’t go.

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“There is not enough publicity about it. When you see how many appointments are missed, it is awful.

Many patients are failing to turn up for GP appointmentsMany patients are failing to turn up for GP appointments
Many patients are failing to turn up for GP appointments

“Most people when they ring their GP surgery, need an appointment that day but they can’t get one. So then they go somewhere else seeking treatment, where they probably shouldn’t be.”

A new Pharmacy First scheme, launched by the government, will mean in the future people can be treated for minor ailments such as sore throats, and also get the contraceptive pill, from pharmacists.

Coun Kim Critchley said: “I have said to people, go and see their pharmacist and they have come back and said they didn’t want to know. So I think we need clearer pathways and communication on this.”

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The meeting was told there are now an extra 200 GP appointments available each week in Blackpool, and all surgeries offer face-to-face consultations.

Concerns were also raised about access to dentists.

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Coun Scott said: “If you ring 111, they ask if you are in pain and if you aren’t you can’t get through.

“But if people need treatment such as a filling, and that is not dealt with, it leads to needing emergency treatment. How do we ensure people get preventative dentistry and ongoing oral health?”

Coun Anita Cooper called for more information about alternative forms of seeking treatment, such as access to pharmacists, to be displayed in public buildings such as libraries.

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The committee was told measures to improve access to dentistry included making practices more efficient, such as reducing the number of check-ups for patients to one a year, instead of every six months, which would free up capacity.

Text messaging could be used to remind people of GP appointments, so they are not missed, while better telephone systems could improve call handling at the busiest times.