Missed GP appointments in Gainsborough costing the NHS thousands

More than 14,000 people in west Lincolnshire missed their GP appointments in the first four months of this year.
More than 14,000 people in west Lincolnshire missed their GP appointments in the first four months of this year.

Patients who miss their GP appointments in Gainsborough and the rest of west Lincolnshire are costing the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds, new figures reveal.

The statistics, provided by NHS Digital Data, show that patients failed to attend 14,106 face-to-face consultations with doctors and nurses in west Lincolnshire between January and April this year.

The average cost of an appointment is £30, meaning no-shows -- without patients calling in to cancel or reschedule -- cost an estimated £423,180 over four months, or £3,527 a day.

The total so far this year is already enough to pay the annual salary of 18 full-time nurses. And with sessions lasting about ten minutes, unattended appointments meant GPs and other surgery staff wasted 2,351 hours of consulting time, the equivalent of 14 weeks.

The Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) stressed how important it was that patients informed their surgery if an appointment was no longer needed.

Wendy Martin, the CCG’s executive lead nurse/midwife and director of quality, said: “The impact of missed GP appointments is significant for our practices.

“We would strongly urge all patients to do the responsible thing and to cancel appointments they no longer need.

“Our practices offer a range of ways to cancel appointments, including via telephone and online. Forgetting to cancel your appointment might mean someone else cannot get one.”

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) said missed sessions were “a frustrating waste of resources” for GPs, especially at a time when many patients were struggling to book quick appointments.

Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the RCGP, said: “We would urge patients to let us know as soon as possible if they can’t attend, so we can offer that time to someone who really needs it. Many patients are waiting far too long for a GP appointment.”

As of April this year, a total of 329,249 face-to-face consultations had been booked with GPs in west Lincolnshire. Of those, one in 23 was missed without explanation.