Northern Ireland medic slams Rishi Sunak’s plan for missed GP appointment fines

A senior family doctor in Northern Ireland has met plans for Tory leadership contender Rishi Sunak to fine people £10 for missed doctor and hospital appointments.

dr Frances O’Hagan told the climax of the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster program that if he succeeds in the Tory leadership race, the plans outlined by Mr Sunak are not the way to solve “the problems” in the NHS.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Sunak said the measure was part of a “transformative” restructuring of the NHS and that it was “not right” that people weren’t showing up to appointments as badly as they needed them.

He vowed to bring back the “zeal for reform” of the coalition’s early days, saying the fines would be imposed on those who missed deadlines and failed to announce in time.

His plans would give patients “the benefit of the doubt” the first time, but patients would be fined £10 each time for subsequent missed appointments.

He also said the directive is “temporary” as the NHS works to clear a huge Covid-19 backlog of around six million patients awaiting scheduled treatment.

dr Frances O’Hagan is Deputy Chair of the British Medical Association’s GP Committee in Northern Ireland.

“This is not the way to solve the problems in the NHS,” she said.

“In the GP practice we switched to a system where we call people back during the day and usually make appointments during the day.”

She said there were very few missed appointments because of this.

“If you’re at odds with your patients and you don’t want to have a good relationship, charging them £10 is the way to go.

“If you want to know what’s going on with (missed appointments) you have to find out why patients aren’t coming, as opposed to this £10 fine.

“We need to look at why we have huge waiting lists in the NHS as opposed to this charge which really isn’t about fixing the waiting lists.”

When asked about a recent survey in England, which pointed to a drop in patient satisfaction with GP services and the difficulty in getting appointments, she said the solution was to hire more GPs.

“GPs are an endangered species, we have practices closing all around us,” she said. Northern Ireland medic slams Rishi Sunak’s plan for missed GP appointment fines

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