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27 March 2019

Don’t Need it?, Can’t Make it?, Cancel it

Finding it hard to see your GP when you need to lately? More than 650 General Practice appointments per month in Port Augusta are left unattended. Health authorities are urging the community to cancel appointments they can’t make, so other people can get to see their GP when they need to.

New research by Country SA PHN confirms the Port Augusta community is struggling to see their GP when required. It shows there are hundreds of appointments across the six local practices not being filled every month. The Ghan Medical Centre had a staggering 138 ‘did not attends’ in one month.

“It’s a massive problem in our practice. We certainly have people wanting to see one of our two doctors when we’re fully booked and we have to turn them away, only to find that a number of the appointments get left unattended,” said Angela Green, Practice Manager at The Ghan Medical Centre.

“Sometimes people have booked a double time-slot or a nurse is also required and when they don’t turn up without cancelling that can have a big impact. Three patients miss out on seeing their GP and the nurse could also have been attending to others.

“We’re urging everyone to cancel with as much notice as possible so that we can offer their appointment to someone else. If it’s cancelled at the last minute we’re unable to give someone else 
the opportunity to attend.”

Country SA PHN is working with local practices and other health authorities to remind people to do the right thing and cancel appointments they can’t make.

“It is really important people can see their GP when they need to. It can have serious ramifications for the whole community if people are unable to get the help they need, when they need it,“ Country SA PHN Chief Executive Kim Hosking said.

“When patients requiring a same day appointment can’t get one, they may be referred to hospital. This has a knock-on effect, putting unnecessary strain on the whole health system in a rural community.

“Country SA PHN exists to bridge the gap of health inequity and access in rural South Australia and cancelling unwanted appointments is one way we can all work together to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the rural health system.”

Some local practices are using SMS appointment reminder systems. Others are seeking to establish them.

The Ghan Medical Centre will continue to use a SMS reminder system but said that ‘did not attends’ remains a significant problem for the practice. “We just want to urge the community to think about other people and if you don’t need it, can’t make it, then cancel it,” said Angela Green.

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