MISSED appointments at just one surgery in South Derbyshire have wasted a shocking 60 hours of doctors’ time in one month, it has been claimed.
A total of 245 people failed to show up for booked appointments at the Swadlincote Surgery, in Darklands Road, last month, leaving staff unexpectedly free when they could have been seeing other patients.
The cost of these missed appointments has been estimated at some £15,000.
Practice manager Sarah Longland told the Mail it was a major issue faced by this and other surgeries all over the UK.
She said: “It impacts on the doctors, it interrupts the general flow of the surgery, and it ties up resources which could be used to help other patients – that’s the biggest impact it has.
“If someone doesn’t turn up for an appointment, it’s a slot which someone else could have had when they have been trying to organise something which fits around their lives.”
Patients who fail to show up for their appointments are sent a letter, and doctors have the power to strike a patient off their list.
Missed appointments have been a hot topic for some time, with many people suggesting those who persistently fail to turn up should be fined for their misdemeanour.
However, Dr James Betteridge, registrar at the surgery, said that was not a helpful attitude. “It is a problem,” he admitted.
Statistics from NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group show that last year doctors and nurses spent a staggering 1,599 hours waiting for patients who did not arrive.
The time could have been used to see a further 9,500 people, it has been estimated.
Mrs Longland put the issue down to people booking appointments ‘just in case’ and failing to arrive when they feel better.
She urged people to contact the surgery to free up the slot in that instance.