The £88,000 cost of missed GP appointments in South Tyneside in just one month
There were a total of 2,935 planned consultations with doctors and nurses over the course of December which just did not happen because the patient did not turn up, NHS Digital data shows.
Across England, the average cost of an appointment is £30, meaning the missed appointments in the borough cost the NHS an estimated £88,100 over the month – equivalent to the annual salary of four full-time nurses.
With sessions usually lasting around 10 minutes, unattended appointments meant GPs and other practice staff wasted 489 hours of consulting time.
Kate Hudson, Deputy Chief Executive at NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group said: “There are many reasons why people miss an appointment but if they don’t cancel it means that other patients are unable to use that appointment.
“Missed appointments also cost the NHS a lot of money. We all have a responsibility to make the best use of NHS resources and this includes appointments at the GP practice.
“If you have an appointment coming up that you no longer need or are unable to attend, please let your practice know.”
“We are always trying to find ways to make it easy as possible for people to access their GP practice, but we need our patients to do their part too and let us know if they need to cancel or rearrange an appointment.”
The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) said missed sessions are “a frustrating waste of resources” for GPs, and other patients struggling to secure time with their doctors.
In December, a total of 47,803 face-to-face consultations were booked with GPs and other practice staff in the South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group.
Practices are increasingly using electronic methods, such as text reminders, to encourage patients to keep appointments or cancel them in plenty of time.
The British Medical Association said it was vital that appointments were not wasted at a time of intense pressure on the NHS.
The association’s GP committee chair, Dr Richard Vautrey said: “We believe that the NHS should make clear to the public that, given current pressures on the health service, patients should make every possible effort to attend or rearrange their appointment to avoid time and money being wasted.”