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Sunak scraps pledge to fine patients £10 for missing NHS appointments

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

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Rishi Sunak has reneged on his promise to charge patients £10 if they miss a doctor's or hospital appointment during the Conservative leadership race.

The prime minister had justified the fine as a "tough" measure to change people's behavior, telling Tory members in August that it was "wrong" that "15m missed appointments every year NHS" at GPs and hospitals.

Even though the Tories had been in power for more than ten years, Sunak, a former chancellor at the time with no portfolio, claimed in a blue-on-blue attack that "no one had bothered tackling" the problem for years.

"I've said I want to get tough on this," he said. "It's not valuing our doctors properly but it's also, more importantly, depriving people of care that they urgently need, making them wait unnecessarily long."

The PM wants to deliver a stronger NHS, and the sentiment that people shouldn't be skipping appointments and consuming NHS resources is still present, according to a Downing Street spokesperson on Friday. However, we have acknowledged that this is not the appropriate time to move this policy forward after listening to doctors and other health leaders.

Health professionals heavily criticized the plans. The measure, according to the British Medical Association, will "make matters worse" and jeopardize the idea of free NHS care at the point.

Instead, Sunak was "committed to delivering the commitments made in the manifesto" that the Tories brought to the 2019 general election, according to Sunak's press secretary.

Sunak had argued that the fines were a necessary short-term solution until the post-coronavirus backlogs were addressed in the summer. He declared, "Under my government, there will never be a fee for services our NHS provides." However, I will charge those who schedule appointments but fail to show up, wasting valuable NHS time.


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