Patients missing appointments are costing the NHS

Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Patients at breakfast club on the Ark Royal Ward in Gosport War Memorial Hospital

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HUNDREDS of hours of doctors’ time is being wasted because patients do not turn up for appointments, The News can reveal.

In the space of one week, more than 1,100 GP appointments were missed at surgeries in the Portsmouth area.

And 902 appointments were missed at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham.

Missed appointments are a massive problem in the NHS, costing the health service time and money.

The NHS say patients who persistently miss GP appointments and do not let their practice know are at risk of being asked to register at a different practice.

Carol Giles, head of primary care at NHS Portsmouth, said: ‘It’s disappointing to see that so many patients have booked appointments which they have then failed to attend, without letting their surgery know.

‘This leaves the surgery staff in limbo wondering if the patient is going to turn up and unable to make use of the time by seeing other patients.’

Latest figures show that during the week of January 10 to 16 this year, 1,021 nurse and doctors’ appointments were missed at the 26 surgeries in Portsmouth.

This equates to 171 hours and 30 minutes of wasted clinical time – meaning doctors in the city lost the equivalent of 21 working days.

Across 11 GP surgeries in the Gosport, Fareham and Havant and Waterlooville area, 148 appointments were missed – the equivalent of 24 hours and 40 minutes of clinical time.

At QA hospital in the same week, 902 appointments were missed and in January out of 30,000 appointments, about 4,800 were missed.

But the number of missed appointments has gone down at the hospital – it was nearing 10,000 a month in 2009.

Its text message service reminding people about appointments is thought to have helped.

Mandy Mugridge, the hospital’s project manager for outpatients, said: ‘Since it came in we’ve had fewer “do not attends” and waiting times have been reduced and it means not having to run extra clinics.

‘If people can’t make their appointment then we just ask that they let us know as soon as possible.’