HOSPITAL bosses have been left with a loss of more than £2m after thousands of patients missed appointments.
Figures from NHS England found Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT), which runs Queen Alexandra Hospital, lost £2.1m between January and June this year due to outpatients either not turning up or being too late to be seen.
The data, analysed by the Press Association's Radar project, found 17,662 sessions were lost at an average cost of £120 per appointment.
It comes as PHT recently received £2.8m from the Department for Health and Social Care as part of their winter plan and A&E development.
Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport, said: ‘I fully understand people’s frustration at the number of patients who miss appointments.
‘In a time of pressure on public finances, and the need for the NHS to be as fiscally efficient as possible, it is a great shame to see time and resources wasted this way.
‘There are no plans to introduce charges for missed appointments and it is the responsibility of NHS organisations locally to minimise this number. I know new solutions to reduce missed appointments are being introduced.’
Out of the 281,974 outpatient appointments in the first half of this year, six per cent of patients did not show up.
The figures show 5,038 people failed to make their first appointments while 12,624 did not appear for a subsequent meeting.
Councillor Steve Pitt, deputy leader of Portsmouth City Council, said the figures were disappointing.
‘I would encourage everyone who has an outpatient appointment to try and make them or call ahead and cancel,’ he said.
‘Our NHS resources are more stretched than ever and we need to get the most out of our health services. However, I do understand there are circumstances when people just simply cannot attend.’
Paul Bytheway, chief operating officer at PHT, said they have been working hard to tackle the problem and the figure has reduced compared to previous years.
‘The most common reason for not attending is forgetfulness, so we strive to help our patients with reminders,’ he said.
‘Where possible we send text reminders seven days before and recently we have introduced an online patient portal app where patients receive their appointment directly to their smart phone and its calendar. For those without smart phones, they receive a letter.
‘Appointments are precious and I would ask all our patients to help us by letting us know as early as they can if they need to rearrange or cancel their appointment; by doing this another person who really needs an appointment can be offered it,’ Paul added.