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‘Frustrating waste of resources’: Missed GP appointments in Redbridge cost £2.5m last year

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 February 2020

Missed GP appointments in Redbridge cost the NHS millions of pounds last year. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Images

Missed GP appointments in Redbridge cost the NHS millions of pounds last year. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

Patients failed to show up for tens of thousands of GP appointments in Redbridge last year and cost the NHS millions of pounds in the process, new figures show.

The Royal College of GPs says missed appointments are "frustrating" for doctors but warned that non-attendance could be for many reasons, including underlying mental health issues.

NHS Digital data shows that last year an estimated 83,911 appointments were missed without enough notice to invite other patients in the Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group area - an average of 230 per day.

This includes appointments with nurses, therapists and other practice staff, as well as doctors.

A missed GP appointment costs around £30, according to NHS England, meaning the NHS Redbridge CCG could have lost out on around £2.5million through patient no-shows last year.

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This cost, on top of the disruption for staff and other patients, would pay for the average annual salary of 43 full-time GPs.

A survey by Pulse magazine last year found that four in ten GPs would be in favour of charging patients for appointments.

A spokesman for NHS Redbridge CCG said GP practices are under even greater pressure at this time of year due to winter illnesses and urged patients to do their bit by letting their practice know if they need to cancel or rearrange their appointment.

"When patients miss appointments it can be a frustrating waste of resources for GPs and their teams, and also for those other patients who are trying to secure an appointment for themselves," he said.

"If a patient can't make their slot, we would urge them to notify their practice as soon as possible so it can offer that valuable time to someone else who needs it.

"There are now many ways of cancelling an appointment and practices in Redbridge are using a range of methods, including online services and telephone and text reminders, to encourage patients to keep their appointments or cancel them in a timely manner."

A survey by Pulse magazine last year found that four in ten GPs would be in favour of charging patients for appointments.


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