Across the Portsmouth CCG area, 49,361 appointments were missed last year without enough notice to invite other patients while in Fareham and Gosport, doctors, nurses, therapists and staff were left waiting 41,874 times and in the South Eastern Hampshire CCG, covering Havant, 46,131 people didn’t turn up to their appointments.
A missed GP appointment costs around £30, according to NHS England, meaning the NHS could have lost out on £4.1m in no-shows.
Hannah Barnard from Gosport has, in the past, struggled to get appointments at her surgery.
The mother-of-four said: ‘I think it is a two-way street. People get annoyed at the NHS for not having appointments but if others aren’t cancelling their appointments then there is some of the problem.
‘Everyone needs to step up and make sure they cancel their appointments if they can because then it makes it easier for people who need urgent appointments rather than having to go elsewhere.’
Carolyn Hill, practice manager at Brook Lane Surgery in Sarisbury Green, told The News that in December last year there was a week when 58 people didn’t turn up to appointments. That week doctors treated 48 extra patients on top of their normal workload – patients who could have been seen during the missed appointments time, making the surgery work more smoothly.
Ms Hill said: ‘It is frustrating and I understand if there are genuine reasons for not making appointments but when I call people up to check if they still need an appointment, they tell me they forgot or went out with the family because it is a nice day.
‘The other day we had someone book online at 7am for an appointment at 10.20am and he didn’t turn up. I don’t agree that we should charge people for missed appointments but because there is nothing that will happen if they don’t cancel then the problem continues.’
Dr Linda Collie, chief clinical officer for NHS Portsmouth CCG, wants patients to take advantage of the eConsult service to make or cancel appointments more easily.
Speaking on behalf of the CCGs covering Portsmouth and south east Hampshire, Dr Collie said: ‘We all know how frustrating it can be to get an appointment at your GP practice and that some people may have to wait several weeks before they can be seen.
‘Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of people keep their appointments or cancel in advance and of course we recognise that for some patients we know there may be genuine reasons as to why they were unable to cancel an appointment.
‘Sadly there is a very small but consistent minority who don’t cancel and so their behaviour means that slot didn’t go to someone who needed an urgent appointment, or someone had to wait longer than they needed to access help.’
‘As the NHS embraces digital improvements, it’s never been easier to make – or cancel – an appointment with a GP or practice nurse. Patients can also access practice websites and use the eConsult service, which is an online system for accessing medical or administrative assistance.
‘GP practices are working hard to ensure that patients are aware of their appointments and some are able to send reminders by text.’
The figures are from NHS Digital data compiled by the Press Association.