There were 771,000 missed hospital appointments in Scotland in 2012-13, costing the NHS around £60 million, which is a shocking waste of NHS resources, time and money.
At a time of austerity, surely those who continue to treat the NHS with contempt and waste taxpayers’ money should face a penalty for missing appointments. Apart from the Tories, the other political parties have ruled out a financial penalty.
Now is the time to be radical and the NHS should learn from the sanctions regime which is imposed on the unemployed.
Unemployed people who miss an appointment can be sanctioned by having their benefits removed for one month. A second missed appointment is punished by a three-month sanction and for a third offence the removal of all money for three years.
People who miss hospital appointments without good reason should be sanctioned and denied all NHS treatment for a first offence and up to three years denial of treatment for a third missed appointment.
Children and vulnerable adults would not be subject to a sanctions regime.
This would free up the NHS for those who value the service and allow resources to be focused on some of our most deprived communities and tackle the chronic health inequalities in Scottish society.