Derby GP practices could have seen at least 4,300 more patients since April last year if they had not been waiting for people who failed to keep appointments.
The shocking figures were revealed by a survey of the 32 practices responsible for more than 320,000 patients in the Derby area of NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
The statistics were published by the CCG to highlight the importance of patients turning up on time or cancelling as soon as possible.
And the situation is almost certainly worse than presented by the findings as 12 of the 32 practices did not respond.
From last April to the end of February, 4,484 appointments were not kept.
The figures mean that GPs and nurses in the 20 responding practices spent a staggering 44,840 minutes – more than 700 hours - waiting for patients who never showed up. In other words, practice staff were kept waiting for around 30 days, or nearly a month.
Dr Sheila Newport, Chair of NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG, said:
“These staggering figures show that thousands of patients could be seen more promptly if it wasn’t for people who can’t be bothered to turn up or tell the practice they’re unable to attend.
“The sooner we can see our patients, the sooner we can put their minds at rest by setting them on the road to treatment and recovery.
“It’s hard to count the human cost of the stress and suffering of patients kept waiting for appointments but it’s certain that no-show patients are costing the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds at a time when finances have never been more stretched.
“Yet, this is a problem that’s easily remedied. All people have to do is call their practice straight away if they have to cancel an appointment. A new appointment can then be made, and our practices can focus on treating other patients.”