GPs and healthcare staff at one doctors’ surgery were left waiting for more than 700 hours last year by people who failed to show up for appointments.
A staggering 3,546 appointments were missed at the Munro Medical Centre in West Elloe Avenue, Spalding, last year – a problem that is mirrored at other surgeries and hospitals up and down the country.
The shock statistics for Munro Medical Centre alone represent 710 hours of wasted medical staff time.
Figures from the practice reveal a continued increase in missed appointments in the past six months.
Since July, there were 1,845 appointments missed, representing 373 wasted hours.
The National Health Service loses around £300million each year because of missed appointments, 60 per cent of which are a result of patient apathy.
A survey found that 17 million GP appointments are missed each year – the equivalent of the work done by almost 1,700 full-time doctors.
Now medical staff are calling for clinics to follow the example set by airlines and overbook patients to fill the gaps left by no-shows.
In a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, researchers found that 14 per cent of patients did not keep their appointments.
A quarter of those who missed an appointment during the time of the study had missed at least one other in the past.
Thirty per cent said they had ‘forgotten’ to attend, while a quarter gave no reason at all for not turning up.
One in ten blamed ‘clerical errors’ and eight per cent said they failed to attend because they were feeling better by the time they were due to see a doctor.
Patient Sophie-Louise Bailey said: “Personally, I think Munroe have accepted far too many patients for a small surgery and they cannot cope (or do so with the manners expected).
“I think, therefore, more should be done and there should be consequences for those who miss appointments such as fees or, as the dentists do, two missed appointments and your out!”
John Decamps said: “They always send a text reminder the day before your appointment. I went for my retinopathy check on Thursday at 1.30pm at the Johnson Hospital the man said two people had already failed to turn up and there was no sign of the next appointee when I left.”
Anyone unable to make their appointment at the Munroe Medical Centre is asked to call 01775 71599. Those who regularly miss appointments without reasonable explanation could be removed from the patient list.
Patients with mobile phones can automatically send an SMS Text message appointment confirmation and a reminder on the day.