Missed appointments cost South Tyneside NHS trust almost £600,000

A hospital ward. Picture by PA Archive/PA Images
A hospital ward. Picture by PA Archive/PA Images

South Tyneside NHS trust has lost almost £600,000 this year due to thousands of patients not turning up to appointments.

Health bosses say it is vital patients use health services responsibly as the NHS facesincreasing pressure.

Dr Sean Fenwick

Dr Sean Fenwick

New data from NHS England shows that, between January and June, 4,990 people either did not show up for outpatient appointment at the trust, or arrived too late to be seen.

The average outpatient appointment costs the NHS £120 - meaning that the missed sessions cost South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust around £599,000.

Dr Sean Fenwick, director of operations at South Tyneside and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trusts said: “The NHS is under increasing pressure as never before and it is vital that patients and the public use health services responsibly to ensure that care is readily available for everyone who needs it and no appointments are wasted.

“We understand that there are circumstances where patients are unable to attend appointments for genuine reasons and it is important for patients to let us know so we can offer a suitable alternative and give the original appointment to someone else.”

He added: “While missed appointments clearly have a financial impact, there is also a detrimental impact for patients if they do not receive the care that they need, when they need it.

“Details of how to cancel or reschedule an appointment can be found on our website and you can also now do it online. Missed appointments have an impact on patient care and people may be removed from waiting lists if fail to turn up for an appointment without letting us know.”

The figures for South Tyneside show that, out of the 55,690 outpatient appointments, eight per cent of patients did not show up.

The figures show 1,641 people failed to make their first appointment and 3,349 did did not appear for a subsequent meeting.

Dr Robert Harwood, chairman of the BMA’s consultant committee, said: “It is important that no appointments are wasted at a time when the NHS is under incredible stress.

“We should not stigmatise patients who may for legitimate reasons be unable to attend.

“However, we do need the NHS to emphasise through clear publicity to the public that given the current unprecedented pressure, patients should make every possible effort to rearrange their appointment so that another person is able to receive treatment in their place.”