From January to June this year, over 30,000 hospital appointments have been missed by patients either not turning up, or showing up too late to be seen, NHS data shows.

At the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, nearly 14,000 people out of around 250,000 patients missed their appointment, meaning that the hospital shoulders the no-show bill of £1.38 million. In King’s Lynn, at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, over 8,000 patients did not show, and £979,000 was wasted.

The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston had the highest ratio of missed appointments, with nearly 10,000 patients missing their appointment. The bill was £1.1 million.

The total cost of the 30,000 people not showing up to their appointments was around £3.77 million. If these patients had called ahead to say they could not make these appointments, the NHS could have instead funded:

* 9,000 ambulances

* 163 nurses on salary

* Eight inpatient treatments

* Over 9,000 inpatient bed days in a hospital

Julia Hunt, the director of Nursing at the James Paget, said “missed appointments delay care for other patients, waste staff time, and cost money. We would urge anyone who cannot attend their hospital appointment to let us know in good time. We can then re-allocate the appointment to another patient in need of healthcare.

“If you know you cannot attend your doctor or hospital appointment, it is vital that you phone the practice and cancel or change your appointment. Not only does this mean that other patients can be seen faster, it saves millions of pounds that can go into other NHS services”.

Dr Robert Harwood, the chairman of the BMA’s (British Medical Association) consultant committee, said “it is important that no appointments are wasted at a time when the NHS is under incredible stress. We should not stigmatise patients who may for legitimate reasons be unable to attend. However… patients should make every possible effort to rearrange their appointment so that another person is able to receive treatment in their place”.

 

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