Missed general practice appointments costing NHS £216m every year

2 Jan 19

Missed general practice appointments are costing the NHS £216m every year, according to figures from NHS England.

The quango released figures today saying more than 15 million (5%) of all appointments were being wasted each year as patients failed to turn up and do not warn their surgeries beforehand.

Of the 15 million missed appointments, seven million are with busy family doctors, which adds up to more than 1.2 million GP hours wasted each year – the equivalent of 600 GPs working full time for a year, NHS England concluded.

Nikki Kanani, acting director of primary care for NHS England, said: “We know that timely access to general practice appointments are a priority for the public, which is why we are growing the workforce and offering evening and weekend appointments.

“The NHS long term plan will set out how we will build on this progress but patients can do their part by letting the NHS know if they can’t make their slot – freeing up doctors, nurses and other professionals to see those who do need care and attention.”

The NHS long term plan was supposed to be published in autumn 2018 but was delayed until early 2019.

NHS England said the total cost of missed appointments was the equivalent of the annual salary of 2,325 full time GPs, 224,640 cataract operations, 216,000 drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s and the annual salary of 8,424 full time community nurses.

Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “When patients miss appointments it can be a frustrating waste of resources for GPs and our teams, but also for other patients who are struggling to secure an appointment for themselves.

“There may be many reasons why a patient might miss an appointment, and in some cases it can be an indication that something serious is going on for that individual – but we would urge patients to let us know if they can’t attend as soon as possible, so that we can offer that time to someone else who really needs it.”

A health group recently warned that proposals in the government’s immigration white paper could have “severe implications” for the health and social care sector.

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