Missed GP appointments: patients waste thousands of doctor appointments in Morecambe Bay during pandemic - costing NHS thousands

More than 50,000 GP appointments were wasted during the Covid pandemic in Morecambe Bay because patients failed to attend them.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 4:40 pm
More than 50,000 GP appointments were wasted during the Covid pandemic in Morecambe Bay because patients failed to attend them.

Analysis of official NHS data reveals 52,636 appointments were not attended by patients across Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) from April 2020 to February 2021.

Across England, 9.6million were missed – almost one in every 25 appointments offered.

The estimated cost to the NHS of a GP appointment is on average £30.

That means appointments wasted by patients in Morecambe Bay cost the health service an estimated £1,579,080 during the pandemic, according to new analysis by the JPIMedia Data Unit.

In total the missed appointments in England are estimated to have cost the NHS £288million.

In Morecambe Bay, no-shows represented four per cent of all GP slots – with an average of 158 appointments going to waste each day.

Health chiefs are urging patients to notify their GP practice if they need to cancel an appointment so it can be used for someone else.

The missed appointments include face-to-face appointments with family GPs and other practice staff, as well as home visits, telephone calls and video conferencing appointments.

Prof Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said it can be “frustrating” when patients don’t attend their GP appointments as the slot could be used for another patient.

“GPs and our teams have been working hard throughout the pandemic to ensure GP services are available, as well as playing a leading role in delivering the Covid vaccination programme,” he said.

“We would urge patients who no longer need their appointment to contact the surgery, at the earliest possible opportunity, so that valuable GP time can be used for the benefit of other patients.”

He added that while many cases are down to human error, missing an appointment could be a warning sign that something is wrong with a patient, requiring follow-up action from health workers.

Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England’s primary care medical director, added: “Everyone should continue to attend their medical appointments - including for screening and immunisations – as there are strict measures in place to keep patients safe.

“If you are unable to attend for any reason, our message is clear, please let us know so your appointment can be filled by another patient who may need it.”

Patients can be reassured that all clinicians are adhering to government guidance and are using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which includes plastic aprons, face masks and plastic gloves.

In addition, all rooms are being cleaned down between each patient and waiting rooms have been restructured to ensure a two-metre distance can be kept between people.

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