A “plan” to save money at Britain’s National Health Service

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.”


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  • Charlie Mansell

    But what about the outliers to any set of percentages you show?. Ie those who are not espousers of the norm. Can we identify and segment them more effectively? For example their differing level of motivational need? http://www.sciencewise-erc.org.uk/cms/assets/Uploads/Publications/Consultation-and-communicationsReport.pdf

  • http://www.comfortlife.ca/ Retirement Homes

    In my opinion, every patients should wright their illness by their self. As the  receptionist may get confused what the patient is saying, after mentioning their problems receptionist read it loud, other people their may get disturbed. Their may be so many illness a patient have that he don’t  want to say other except doctor, That thing also disclosed.

  • http://www.photographic-elements.com Chris Parker

    I beleive this is an example of researchers grossly overestimating the cost savings.

  • Epikouros

    Another victory for positive reinforcement. Good luck trying to get this past the lawyers!

  • HoldUp

    Meh, I am not a trained monkey and do not repeat things back on command, also if I am paying for a doctors services you can bet I expect them to at the very least write down my appointment.

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