Thanks for not standing us up!

A new study into why people miss GP appointments has been published by Stellar Healthcare.

The report, which targets millennials (21-35 year olds) as the most likely group to miss appointments, reveals insights into why Did Not Attend (DNA) rates remain high amongst younger adults.

Commissioned by NHS West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (WECCG), Stellar Healthcare undertook a four phased approach to identifying the causes and the remedies for people who miss their appointments, with a special focus on evening and weekend GP appointments.

Debbie Bodhanya, Chief Executive of Stellar Healthcare said, “We believe this is the first time anyone has taken a holistic view on the reasons why people miss their appointments. Our team took a three-pronged approach which included research and data, patient insight and practice review in order to get an in depth understanding of the issues. We then created a communications campaign targeting millennials which could help raise awareness of the challenges facing general practice every day.”  

The key findings in the report include:

  1. Millennials do not have the same nostalgic and historical relationship with the NHS as older generations do.
  2. Technological advancement is crucial to booking and cancelling appointments and GP practices need to modernise.
  3. GP practices should streamline and harmonise their appointment processes.
  4. Regular text message reminders reduce DNA rates and encourage attendance/cancellation of appointments.
  5. Admin errors are often the reason why appointments are missed.
  6. Direct messaging is the best way to communicate with millennials.
  7. Promotional and health messages should be targeted to younger adult groups.
  8. Millennials feel like they are being told off and respond better to praise.
  9. Campaign messaging should appeal to their desire to help others.
  10. Sometimes life gets in the way and people just forget or can’t attend their appointments.

Peter Wightman, Director of Primary Care, NHS West Essex CCG, said: “The issue of missed appointments is a big concern for us as it wastes valuable GP time that could have been spent with patients. This study gives us some real insight into the reasons behind why people do not attend, in particular among our younger population and their emotional response to messaging.  In line with the ambitions of the NHS Long Term plan, with its focus on digital there are also some key actions for GP practices around modernisation, something we are keen to support and encourage.”

The study also provides recommendations and practical changes that practices can adopt in order to improve attendance. A full copy of the report is available at http://stellarhealthcare.net/news/260-thanks-for-not-standing-us-up.

Notes to editors:

  1. Stellar Healthcare is an award winning GP Provider company in Harlow and Epping.
  2. Stellar Healthcare successfully delivered the Evening and Weekend GP service between October 2015 and April 2019 with a positive patient satisfaction rating of 97 per cent.
  3. The study on Did Not Attends (DNA) began in January 2019 for four months, and focused on evening and weekend GP appointments.
  4. In 2018 the Evening and Weekend GP service in west Essex had an average Did Not Attend (DNA) rate of 12.8 per cent. This equates to over 6,400 missed appointments and has cost the service an estimated £192,000 in wasted clinical time.  During normal surgery hours, the DNA rate in west Essex is lower at 4.9 per cent for a similar period (November 2017 to October 2018).

For more information, please contact:

Kay Odysseos

Communications lead

0300303 7300

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