ALMOST 10,000 extra patients could have been seen by GPs in South Derbyshire last year in the time that was wasted by people missing appointments.
A total of 874 GP hours were wasted in the district at a cost of more than £91,000 to the NHS.
The staggering statistics were revealed by the Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), as it launched a desperate bid to cut down on the huge number of appointments being skipped.
On the basis that each appointment lasts 10 minutes, it means an extra 9,500 people could have been seen in the time that GPs were kept waiting.
The figures were compiled following a survey of practices across South Derbyshire.
Heartwood Medical Practice, in Civic Way, Swadlincote, reported that 515 appointments were missed, amounting to 86 wasted hours.
Sheila Newport, chairman of the Southern Derbyshire CCG, slammed the no-showers.
She 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.”
David Dickson, secretary of the South Staffordshire Local Medical Committee and former GP at Burton’s Wetmore Road surgery, said having to contend with missed appointments had become the norm for doctors.
He said: “It has been like that for many years. Each GP might have one or two a day, but they have got plenty of things to do in that time.”
Mr Dickson said he believed in many cases there were genuine reasons for appointments being missed.
He said: “People are not machines. They sometimes don’t attend because they forget or because of their problems or circumstances in their lives.”