What a waste: The £1million cost of no-show patients at South Tyneside Hospital

Missed hospital appointments costing NHS trusts millions. Picture by PA Archive/PA Images
Missed hospital appointments costing NHS trusts millions. Picture by PA Archive/PA Images

No-show patients wasted over £1m in much needed cash at South Tyneside District Hospital last year.

New figures show that - in the 12 months to September - 10,170 people either missed a hospital appointment or turned up too late to be seen and cost South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust £1.22m in wasted time.

Dr Sean Fenwick

Dr Sean Fenwick

The data from NHS England shows that - out of the 110,219 outpatient appointments - nine per cent simply did not show up.

The figures show 3,414 people failed to make their first appointment, 10% of first attendances.

A further of 6,756, or nine per cent, did not appear for a subsequent meeting.

The average outpatient appointment costs the NHS £120.

South Tyneside District Hospital

South Tyneside District Hospital

The figures sparked a plae from health chiefs.

Dr Sean Fenwick, director of operations at South Tyneside and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trusts said:

“The NHS is under increasing pressure 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 that no appointments are wasted.

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

“While missed appointments clearly have a financial impact on the NHS, most importantly there is also a detrimental impact for patients if they do not receive the care that they need, when they need it.”

He added: “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 do have an impact on patient care and people may be removed from the waiting list if fail to turn up for an appointment without letting us know.”

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 but we do need the NHS to emphasise 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.”

Across England’s health providers, more than 5.8 million appointments were missed in the year to September 2018 - costing the NHS around £700million.