FIGURES have revealed that doctors could have seen an extra 9,500 patients last year if people had not failed to show up for their appointments.
Doctors who were left sitting around at practices across South Derbyshire waiting for people who failed to keep appointments cost the NHS £91,655 in total.
This comes as health chiefs in Burton revealed that an average of around 10 per cent of appointments are missed in the town.
Dr Sheila Newport, chairman of NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group, 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.
"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."
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.
Dr Philip Needham, a partner at the Stapenhill Medical Centre, in Fyfield Road, agreed that patient no-shows was a significant issue.
He said: "It's a big problem. It's certainly a significant issue for us and means that other people who could have had that slot are missing out. A lot of people who miss appointments are those who have booked months ahead."