Thousands waste our Sheffield doctors’ time

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NEARLY 1,500 patients failed to turn up to doctors’ appointments at seven Sheffield GP practices in a single month - wasting an estimated £27,000 of taxpayers’ money.

A survey conducted by seven medical centres in the city revealed a staggering degree of waste - as slots could not be offered to other patients who had to wait longer for diagnosis and treatment.

The research was done in May at surgeries in Gleadless, Park Hill, Handsworth, Manor Park, Meersbrook and two in Darnall - all part of the Sheffield Central GP consortium.

If as many patients miss appointments at the rest of the city’s 90 GP practices, the cost could be as much as £350,000 a month.

Doctors are now campaigning to get patients to turn up to appointments they book - or at least phone up to cancel.

Dr Richard Oliver, joint clinical director of the Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is an issue for a lot of surgeries and one that can be relatively easily addressed.

“We understand how busy people’s lives often are - but even if it’s a few minutes before, if you let your practice know then that time can be used to see another person who is waiting for help.”

Dr Marion Sloan, a GP at the Sloan Practice in Meersbrook, said: “We try to make it as easy as possible for patients to get in touch and let us know if they cannot make an appointment.

“But people have just not turned up. It means everyone else has to wait longer to get the treatment and services they need.”

There were 334 missed appointments at the Sloan Practice.

At Darnall Health Centre the number of missed appointments rose by more than 50 per cent in three months. Patients failed to turn up for 372 appointments in May compared to 262 in February, wasting 114 hours of clinical time.

Paul Wike, primary care manager for the Central GP Consortium, said: “The average GP appointment costs the NHS £18 so those missed appointments in just seven Sheffield practices in one month cost around £27,000.

“It’s shocking to think what the city-wide figure could be over a year.”