GPs reveal shocking cost of patients failing to attend appointments

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GP surgeries across Sheffield have launched a campaign cracking down on missed appointments after a survey showed hundreds of patients a week are failing to turn up – costingthousands of pounds.

In just one week in April there were 678 appointments missed at 18 of the Central Sheffield GP Consortium’s 27 practices – wasting nearly £15,000 that could have been spent on patient care.

If the scenario was repeated at the other 96 surgeries across the city, it would work out at an incredible £94,734 spent on wasted appointments in Sheffield on average each week.

The 678 missed appointments works out at a minimum of 113 hours of surgery time wasted because patients did not contact the practice to cancel or rearrange.

Health care bosses estimate each GP appointment costs around £25 and each appointment with a nurse costs £18.

It means the 678 missed sessions – 394 with a GP and 284 with a nurse – from the 18 practices cost about £14,962.

Dr Richard Oliver, joint chairman of NHS Sheffield’s Clinical Executive, said: “Whilst this survey provides data for one part of the city it is similar to what we see across the city as a whole.

“Appointments given to one patient cannot be used by someone else, so I’d ask all patients to do their best to remember to go along for their appointment or call if they are unable to attend. This will allow the practice to offer that appointment to somebody else. Even if it’s a few minutes before, let the practice know – that time could be used to see another person.”

Dr Maria Read is a GP at Dovercourt Surgery on Skye Edge, Wybourn, where there were 49 missed appointments during the survey week.

She said: “That is 49 cases where people booked in for an urgent appointment, a routine disease management or medication review or for tests and vaccinations and have not contacted the surgery to cancel or rearrange.

“Some people made an urgent appointment that day and then did not come. Others were texted to remind them the day before and even this did not prompt them to tell us they were not coming.

“They have just not turned up which means those appointments can’t be offered to anyone. Not only that, it means everyone else has to wait longer for the treatment and services they need.”

The consortium has now launched a campaign urging people not to waste their appointment.

Dr Read said: “Like many practices in the city we try to offer flexible surgery times. People can ring, text or email the surgery to cancel.”