Patients miss more than 200,000 GP appointments

More than 200,000 appointments were missed in the past year.

More than 200,000 appointments were missed in the past year. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Patients failed to turn up for more than 200,000 GP appointments in North Somerset last year, costing the NHS millions of pounds.

An estimated 277,032 appointments were missed without giving the surgery enough notice to see other patients, according to figures from NHS Digital.

This includes appointments with nurses, therapists and other practice staff, as well as doctors, and amounts to an average of 759 a day.

A missed GP appointment costs around £30, according to NHS England, meaning the NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) could have lost out on around £8.3million through patient no-shows last year.

The Royal College of GPs says missed appointments are 'frustrating' but warned non-attendance could be for many reasons, including underlying mental health issues.

Chairman professor Martin Marshall said: "Missed appointments are very frustrating, especially when GPs could be seeing other patients - but, for some patients, there may be more complex reasons for non-attendance and it could indicate something more serious, such as underlying mental health issues.

"Charging for appointments - missed or otherwise - would fundamentally change one of the founding principles of the NHS, that access is free at the point of need.

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"It is also unlikely the benefits of such an approach would outweigh the costs of implementing it.

"GP practices are working hard to ensure patients are aware of their appointments by sending reminders by text and email or encouraging them to make appointments through the surgery app. However, it would be helpful if practices had more time and resource to follow up patients they might have particular concerns about."

The cost from missed appointments, on top of the disruption for staff and other patients, would pay for the average annual salary of 142 full-time GPS.

A spokesman for NHS Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire CCG said: "We would always encourage patients who aren't able to attend an appointment, or no longer need one, to contact their GP practice as soon as possible so the time can be offered to someone else."