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New figures show scale of missed GP appointments in Black Country

By Megan Archer | Health | Published:

Missed GP appointments in the Black Country and Stafford have already set the NHS back millions of pounds this year, figures reveal.

Health bosses are urging patients to let their doctor’s surgery know if they can’t attend as soon as possible, so the appointment can be offered to someone who really needs it.

Across the Black Country and Stafford, patients failed to attend 168,955 face-to-face consultations with doctors and nurses between January and April 2019, NHS Digital data shows.

The average cost for an appointment in England is £30, meaning no-shows in the local region cost the NHS an estimated £5.1million over the four months – that’s nearly £42,000 a day.

It was worst in Sandwell – patients failed to attend 68,688 face-to-face consultations with doctors and nurses between January and April 2019, NHS Digital data shows.

In Dudley it was 28,280, Walsall was 32,991, and Wolverhampton was 29,480 appointments missed. In Stafford it was 9,516. The total so far this year is already enough to pay the annual salary of 220 full-time nurses.

'Frustrating'

The Royal College of GPs said missed sessions are "a frustrating waste of resources" for GPs, and for other patients struggling to secure time with their doctors.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “We would urge patients to let us know if they can’t attend as soon as possible, so we can offer that time to someone who really needs it.

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"Many patients are waiting far too long for a GP appointment, and we can all do our bit to help.”

Nearly 4.5 million patients have failed to attend appointments in England this year, racking up estimated costs of more than £130 million.

The British Medical Association said it was vital that appointments were not wasted at a time of intense pressure on the NHS.

Dr Richard Vautrey, the association’s GP committee chairman, said: “We believe that the NHS should make it clear to the public that, given current pressures on the health service, patients should make every possible effort to attend or rearrange their appointment to avoid time and money being wasted.”

NHS England has urged patients to do their part to cut down on missed appointments.

Primary Care director Dr Nikki Kanani said: "Our message is clear: if you cannot make it to your appointment, or no longer need a consultation, please let your practice know in advance so the appointment can be filled by another patient."

Megan Archer

By Megan Archer
Chief Reporter - @MeganA_Star

Chief Reporter with the Express & Star. Give me a call on 01902 319363 or email megan.archer@expressandstar.co.uk.

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