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Non-attendance at out-patient dimes is a persistent, worldwide problem In contrast with previous research, a qualitative approach was used in this study to examine reasons for non-attendance at out-patient clinics in one Belfast hospital, by exploring perspectives of general practitioners (GPs), hospital staff and defaulters Findings revealed conflicts of opinion between GPs and hospital staff on appropriate management of certain medical and postnatal patients Patients’ reasons for defaulting were wide-ranging, however, 32% of those interviewed did not attend, or were recorded as non-attenders, for reasons relating to inefficient hospital administration. It is concluded that the causes of non-attendance were multifactorial, and non-attenders could not be stereotyped as irresponsible Suggested measures to alleviate the problem include discussion between groups of professionals on responsibility for care of medical and postnatal patients, increased negotiation between patients and physicians in order to develop agreed programmes of care, and, where possible, a shifting of the onus of responsibility for making and cancelling appointments onto patients