Labour MP rails against charging Britons for missed appointments
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GB News host Dehenna Davison invited Carolyn Harris onto Sunday’s instalment of the programme to unpick the latest political stories. They debated Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak’s calls to introduce fines for patients who miss GP and hospital appointments. Harris lashed out at Sunak’s pledge and suggested doctors work in the evenings.
Sunak said those failing to turn up for medical appointments are “taking those slots away from people who need [them]”.
The former chancellor announced he would fine patients who did not give enough notice for missing their appointment.
A first-time offender would not be fined, but if they continued to miss appointments they would be charged £10 each time.
Sunak stressed the idea would be a temporary measure until the NHS can clear the coronavirus backlog which has been impacting appointments for years.
While discussing Sunak’s pledge on GB News, Harris exclaimed: “Well the NHS is devolved in Wales and they would never contemplate actually charging anyone for a missed appointment.”
“I cannot imagine the UK Labour Party would support that policy either,” the Welsh politician added.
“We need to put more resourcing into helping GPs get through their day.
“Maybe working on a Saturday morning, maybe working late in the evening, but certainly not charging people who don’t make an appointment.”
More than 15 million appointments at GPs go to waste each year, according to NHS England.
Doctors have resisted the concept of fining patients who miss appointments, worrying it could fill people with fear.
Sunak told The Telegraph: “If [appointments are] not being used, then that’s a waste.
“So if we can change that, then we basically get more out of the money that we’re putting in today.
“It’s a good example of a Conservative approach to that problem.”
Sunak’s pledge has been met with criticism by GB News viewers who have taken to Twitter to voice their opinions.
Adrian Murray fumed: “Chasing people for a £10 fine if they miss an appointment, is that the best you can do @RishiSunak? What if folks don’t pay? Spend more money to chase £10. What a stupid waste.”
Jayne added: “@GBNEWS, are Rishi’s principles all aligned with extracting money from ordinary folks? His latest policy is to fine people for not turning up for GP appointments! Though you would be lucky to get to see a GP face to face at the moment.” (sic)
Lucy remarked: “He’s got a cheek when we are still not back to a full service. Is @RishiSunak going to fine the doctors for being unavailable for appointments as well?”
@Mrs1Freeman said: “Awful idea to fine people. It’s virtually impossible to get through on the phone to make an appointment let alone cancel one. Also, there are so many reasons for missing appointments due to poor health. Rishi is so out of touch.”
Sunak has defended his pledge, saying penalty payments are “the right thing to do when we’ve got people crying out for treatment”.
It is estimated his plan could save the NHS upwards of £200million each year.
Many dentists have already imposed charges for missed appointments, and politicians have long proposed fines.
GB News airs daily and is available to watch on Freeview 236, Sky HD 515 and Virgin Media HD 626.
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