GP practices in South Derbyshire could have seen an extra 9,500 patients last year if they had not been waiting for people who failed to keep appointments.
And the cost to the NHS of practice staff waiting for no-show patients was a staggering £91,655.
The shocking figures were revealed this week by NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in a bid to ram home the importance of patients turning up on time or cancelling as soon as possible.
Statistics showed that GPs and nurses in the six practices in South Derbyshire spent an incredible 1,599 hours – or 95,940 minutes – waiting for patients who never showed up. In total, 874 GP hours were wasted while practice nurses spent 725 hours in fruitless waiting.
With the NHS recommending 10 minutes per appointment, practices would have been able to see 9,500 patients in the time they spent waiting for no-shows to turn up.
The cost to the NHS of GPs waiting for patients was £69,920 while the comparable figure for practice nurses was £21,735.
The incredible figures came from a survey of practices in South Derbyshire, which covers a patient population of 50,000. The practices are a locality of NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG, which plans and buys healthcare for 525,000 people.
Some practices provided additional information to that requested. For example, Heartwood Medical Practice, Swadlincote reported that 198 patients had failed to keep appointments with its pharmacist – wasting 33 hours – while 317 appointments with its phlebotomist (blood nurse) had been missed, totalling 53 hours.
Practices in the Woodville area said that 91 hours of healthcare assistants’ time had been wasted while the comparable figure for Swadlincote practices was 78 hours.
Dr Sheila Newport, Chair of NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG, said:
“These staggering figures show that thousands of patients are being kept waiting for appointments while health professionals sit around in expectation of helping 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 there’s no doubt that missed appointments are costing local health services hundreds of thousands of pounds at a time when the NHS has never been under greater pressure.
“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.”
The survey also showed that 60 per cent of patients who did not turn up then rebooked their appointment within two weeks, suggesting they would have been better keeping their initial slot and getting the help they needed more quickly.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG represents 57 GP practices and is responsible for the healthcare of 525,000 people. It is one of four clinical ommissioning groups in Derbyshire.
Charles Malkin, Communications Officer
Tel: 01246 514971/07825 274111