Late Arrivals

This protocol sets out the procedure to follow where a patient:

  • is late for their appointment, but is less than 10 minutes
  • is more than 10 minutes late, and less than 20 minutes late
  • is more than 20 minutes late
  • Telephones at short notice to advise that they will be late, in which case the above provisions will apply.

General Policy

Patients have a duty to attend for pre-booked appointments promptly, and to take into account logistical difficulties or the time involved in travelling to the practice. The practice will, as far as practicable, see patients who arrive late, however this may be at the end of clinic and may involve a considerable wait for those who do not wish to re-book.

The clinical system records patient’s arrival times. Persistent late attendees may be sent warning letters.
The Practice website will incorporate a section advising patients of the late arrivals policy. Patients arriving late will need to check in at the front desk, it may not be possible for them to be seen, or that they may be seen only with a considerable wait.

When a patient calls the practice to advise they are running late for an appointment this policy should be relayed to the patient, a comment should be added under the patient’s appointment advising of their call to the practice. The time the patient called along with the delay length should be recorded in the comment.

Less than 10 minutes late

The patient will be marked as arrived in their pre-booked appointment “slot”. The clinician will call them in at the first available opportunity. The patient should be advised of this and that there may be some delay while they are fitted in. The clinician is advised to show flexibility and to not unduly inconvenience patients who arrive within 10 minutes of their appointment time.

10 to 20 minutes late

The patient should be advised they are late for their appointment and encouraged to rebook. If the patient is unable to rebook and wishes to be seen they should be advised that the clinician will be advised of their late arrival and their appointment will be added to the end of the clinician’s appointment list, they will be required to wait and there maybe a considerable delay. The receptionist should add a comment under the patient’s appointment advising the clinician of the late arrival of the patient and that the patient has been advised they will have to wait. The clinician is advised to show flexibility and to not unduly inconvenience patients who arrive 10 to 20 minutes late of their appointment time.

More than 20 minutes late

The patient has missed their appointment, and should be rebooked. Where there is an indication of clinical urgency then the receptionist should seek advice from the clinician who the patient is booked to see. The receptionist should ask the patient to be seated while they consult with the clinician. The decision is ultimately the clinicians. All clinicians must take into account clinical urgency when making their decision.

The practice will not, at this stage, differentiate between patients who are persistent late attendees and others. This will be dealt with, should the need arise, by individual letter.