Patients in Gainsborough and the rest of Lincolnshire missed, or were late for, tens of thousands of medical appointments last year, new figures reveal.
About one in 20 appointments within the Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust failed to materialise as scheduled.
And this infuriated GPs and medical professionals because the time wasted meant that others were robbed of help at a time of stretched resources.
Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said: “Finances are so tight at the moment, so anyone who does not attend an appointment, for whatever reason, is depriving someone else of the available time.”
An NHS England spokesperson said: “We are treating record numbers of patients, but could be treating even more if people arrived on time, or if appointments were not missed. This is why hospitals ask patients to let them know if they can’t make an appointment.”
The data, supplied by NHS Digital, shows that there were 914,785 ‘care-contact’ appointments at surgeries, hospitals, homes or other NHS centres within the trust’s region in the 12 months to April this year.
These appointments can be done in person or by phone, and cover a range of services, including district nursing, occupational therapy and health visiting. They are provided by hospitals, health centres and other bodies, such as councils.
Patients failed to attend 41,810 of these appointments, or arrived too late to be seen. A further 14,870 appointments were cancelled, although in these cases, patients told the trust in advance they couldn’t make it.
Across England, 2.5 million of 58 million appointments were missed or too late to be taken up. This represents about four per cent.
For ther Lincolnshire trust, Tracy Pilcher, deputy chief executive, said: “It is disappointing that so many appointments are missed by patients because this wastes our time and resources.
“If you have appointments with any NHS services, I would ask you to please contact the appropriate clinic if you can’t make it, so your slot can be reallocated.”