Royal Mail post delays and NHS letters

10 May 2024

There has been ongoing media attention about the impact of postal delays on NHS appointment letters in response to the ongoing Royal Mail consultation.

Ofcom released a report earlier this year which indicated ways in which Royal Mail could be overhauled to save Royal Mail becoming “unsustainable”. Two options suggested would be to reduce the postal deliveries within the week. This could be from 6 days to 5  days per week or even as low as 3 deliveries per week. The second option is to extend the time it takes for letters to be delivered, meaning it would take 3 days or more to deliver letters.

There are ongoing concerns that reducing postal delivery services would worsen patient communications rather than improve them and would widen health inequalities.

Many groups of people are digitally excluded and rely solely on letters for communication of important health and appointment information. This would also have an impact on NHS teams as well, with the possibility of increased missed appointments. Missed NHS appointments are a significant source of waste and inefficiency for the health service. According to various sources, each missed appointment costs the NHS an average of £30 to £169, depending on the type of appointment. The total cost of missed GP appointments in England was estimated to be around £290 million in 2020. Total hospital appointments where the patient did not attend totaled nearly 7.5 million in 2021-2022.

If you’ve had an experience in missing an important letter from the NHS including appointment letters or treatment letters and you want to share your story, please email and use the subject line “Post Office”.