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NHS: Be punctual – or else

Natasha arranged for a vision check-up for Becky a few days ago. We haven’t been to that NHS office before, and Natasha turned out to be overly optimistic about the ease of finding a parking spot near the office. By the time she had parked some distance away and walked with Becky into the reception, it was 7 minutes after the appointment time.

“We cannot take you now”, they were told, “since you are late, starting the appointment right now will push the subsequent appointments back, and we cannot have that.”

Natasha tried to reason with them, but to no avail. She and Becky turned around and left, and I suppose that she will look for another provider when she re-schedules.

Can a medical office ever be so efficient as to spend exactly the allotted time on each appointment? Can a patient who is a few minutes late really screw up the entire remaining schedule? For that matter, can anyone remember ever being ushered into the doctor’s office exactly on time of the appointment? I, for one, knew a couple of doctors who came close, but I’m pretty sure that 5-10 minutes later than scheduled is customary.

I think the key here is that an NHS office will likely bill the government and get paid for this visit regardless of whether the services have been provided. A private doctor, conversely, would not want to lose a source of income over a few minutes of inadvertent tardiness.

Beware of being late for NHS appointments!


  1. mattw

    I’ve never had a doctor be on time. The worst is when they get you in the room and the nurse says the doctor will be in in about 5 minutes and then the doctor doesn’t come in for 25 minutes.

  2. Brian Greenberg

    The strangest part of it is thinking about the next patient, who could have showed up 15 minutes early, only to wait in the waiting room while the doctor waited in his/her office, doing nothing, until the clock struck the appropriate time for the appointment to begin.

    I assume if we can’t have tardiness, then we certainly can’t deal with the chaos that would come from taking early appointments, right? 😉

  3. Ilya

    I’m pretty sure that early appointment does not exist as a concept in this environment. I’m convinced that the doctor is more than happy to sit idle for a while – the government pays either way.

  4. mama

    One time I had a very bad experience (do not ask me what kind of specialist I visited), when I was waiting for almost two hours lying on table ready for doctor to come in……I do not count that I was in office almost 1/2 hour before my time and was admitted to the room only in 2 hours.
    The most worth thing was that I had another appointment with dentist (both visits were apart for more than 4 hours)- it was my day off and my intension was to fully use free day.
    Can you guess what was my decision? I got up from the torture table, tell everybody good buy (somebody from stuff tried to stop me and tell that doctor will come very soon), and quickly drove to another office to be almost on time to put on my open teeth the cover (coronka).
    I think it is not a question that I never forever visited the first office in my life.
    The conclusion? Never use your free day for such nasty things.

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