Practices in England suffer a million patient no-shows every month, according to new figures.
The number of non-attendances reached record levels last year, the Sunday Times reported. About half the appointments were to see doctors and half for appointments with other staff. The paper claims non-attendances are costing £200 million a year – although some missed appointments may be reassigned to people waiting on the day.
Some districts run campaigns to reduce non-attendances and the area with the lowest rate, South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said its practices had publicised the number of hours lost to no-shows. The highest rates are found in seven areas of London together with Salford, Wolverhampton and Sandwell and West Birmingham.
Royal College of GPs chair Professor Martin Marshall said: “In many cases, missed appointments will be simple human error, and practices are working hard to ensure that patients are aware of their appointments by sending reminders by text and email or encouraging them to make appointments through the surgery app.
“However, non-attendance can also indicate something more serious, such as underlying mental health issues, and it would be helpful if practices had more time and resource to follow up patients they might have particular concerns about and determine their reasons for not using their appointment.”