The Telegraph reports that having patients write down the details of their appointment themselves could save the NHS £250 million a year.
Traditional approaches to the problem have included sending reminder letters and putting up posters telling patients how many GP days are lost every year because of “do not attends” (DNAs).
But a small project in Bedfordshire managed to cut the inattendance rate by up to 30 per cent by jettisoning those ideas.
Instead, patients were asked to write down when their appointment was, rather than the receptionist doing it, and repeat back to them out loud the details.
Posters were also put up at the two participating GP surgeries, and messages run on digital tickers, saying: “Ninety-five per cent of people turn up to their appointments on time.”
Steve Martin, director of Influence at Work, a behavioural science consultancy, said the psychology of negative messages was all wrong.
He said: “The vast majority of practices and hospitals tend to have these posters that point out how many people don’t turn up. But that just makes people think it’s normal not to attend.”