Missed Appointments – Cancelling is Better Than Not Showing Up

11th January 2024

Missed Appointments – Cancelling is Better Than Not Showing Up

Missed appointments – cancelling is better than not showing up.

There can be many reasons why someone misses a counselling appointment.

Sometimes it happens for completely legitimate reasons, like an accident, serious illness or other misfortune. Other times, it can be just forgetfulness, a chaotic lifestyle or a variable outside their control.

For some it can be concerns about the first meeting and what it will be like, what will be expected of them, its format and potential experience, or the feeling that further sessions down the line are not required.

Janette Smeeton, CEO at DRCS, looks at how understanding the reasons why people might have missed their appointment provides an opportunity to take action to address them, with cancelling always being best route, rather than missing a session.

"At DRCS we are keen to make sure people know the format, scope and length of the session ahead of their appointment so there are no surprises on the first meeting.

"Attending a first counselling appointment can be especially hard as people have fears about the risks, judgment, being open and emotional impact. We aim to make it a comfortable, supportive and worthwhile process, along your entire journey with us.

"It is important to realise that missed appointments can lead to a delay in treatment for other people on our waiting list and have a further negative impact on a client’s mental health."

When a patient misses their appointment, it is referred to as a ‘Did Not Attend’ (DNA).

Some counselling services charge clients for missed appointments. Not charging for missed sessions can add up to thousands of pounds in lost income each year for counselling charities like DRCS.

Janette added: "We are mindful that our counselling appointments are very valuable for those clients that are waiting for them. If a client does not attend their appointment and does not let us know in advance, we cannot reallocate that time to another person waiting for therapy."

The financial cost of missed appointments in the National Health Service (NHS) has been estimated at £360 million per year. This is mostly due to non-attendance in primary care and hospital out-patient clinics.

According to NHS statistics, during 2021/2022, nearly 7.5 million outpatient appointments were missed by patients, often for reasons outside of their control, and often linked to health inequalities.

Janette added: "Reducing missed appointments helps to ensure that clinical time is used effectively and means patients on the waiting list can be seen more quickly.

"Missed appointments means the time, which has been reserved exclusively for the client, could have been used for another person to benefit, has been lost."

Janette added there were many reasons according to research why clients didn’t cancel appointments, rather just missed the appointment altogether.

"Most are horrified when they realise they have wasted their counsellor’s time, but some are embarrassed, or fearful of offending the counsellor or being questioned by them. They worry that the counsellor will not support a change of mind about starting or ending therapy or are perhaps not happy with the service they are receiving.

"If you are cancelling your counselling appointment to avoid something, sometimes it can be useful to bring up your feelings or fears with your counsellor in a session.

"If you can’t make the appointment, then cancel it, for whatever reason.

"Not only does it save money in the long run, counsellors feel that their time is being respected and it also allows them to open up the spot for someone else who may need it.

"Cancelling an appointment is a straightforward process and is always better than just not showing up."

DRCS offers a range of appointment days and times, plus online and face to face opportunities to talk.

For further information on how you get an appointment with DRCS click here

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