The News readers gave a mixed response to proposals put forward to charge NHS patients for missed appointments. 

If elected, Tory leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak outlined plans to charge patients who miss their GP and hospital appointments £10 if they don’t give sufficient notice.  

The first time a patient misses an appointment, they would be given the benefit of the doubt, but second offences will incur a charge.  

Mr Sunak said he is “all for a healthcare system that’s free at the point of use” but wants to tackle what he sees as “free at the point of misuse”. 

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Vice chairman of the Royal College of GPs, Dr Gary Howsam, acknowledged that missed appointments were “frustrating” but said that charging for absences would more greatly affect vulnerable patients. 

As of February, six million people were on NHS waiting lists in England. 

Those readers who were against the plan pointed to the length of time it took to reschedule an appointment anyway and how much the administrative cost of issuing the fines would be. 

Lexie Brookes-Ashmore said the plan was a “non-starter”, adding that “no one will be able to get past the receptionists in the first place”. 

Abi Lewis also noted how difficult it is to reschedule after being on hold for well over two hours with Frimley Health for her son’s eye appointment. 

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“Luckily I work evenings, and had 2 hours and 36 minutes to spare in the middle of the day,” she added. 

Others were more supportive of the proposal. Paul Winslow claimed that at his local surgery the weekly average of ‘no shows’ is 18 per cent, which prevents others from booking those slots. 

“Rude, disrespectful and frustrating. Something needs to be done,” he added. 

Alex Wilcox agreed calling it an “excellent idea”. He said others would have a chance to be seen “if people stopped wasting all the appointment slots”. 

Barbara McMinnies agreed with the charge but said it should “go both ways” when patients are required to sit in waiting rooms “for an hour or so” waiting for their appointment.

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Some said the problem was down to a deficiency in staff numbers. Emma Louise said the situation could be helped by spending more money on recruiting doctors. 

Dean Harfield responded by saying that the charge for cancellations could “go towards recruitment”. 

Wokingham MP John Redwood has also commented on the plan by questioning who would collect the money, and what sanctions would apply if people refused to pay. 

“[The] best answer is make it easy to book a GP slot and easy to change it by agreement for either side,” he added.