Missed hospital appointments cost Royal £2.5m in one year

Chesterfield Royal Hospital.
Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

Chesterfield Royal Hospital has lost more than £2.5m in a year due to thousands of patients not turning up to appointments, figures show.

Data from NHS England shows that in the 12 months to September 2018, 22,366 people either did not show up for an outpatient appointment, or arrived too late to be seen.

The British Medical Association said it was crucial appointments are not wasted while the health service is ‘under incredible stress’.

The average outpatient appointment costs the NHS £120, according to the latest resources cost data.

This means that the 22,366 missed sessions cost Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust around £2.68 million.

Dr Robert Harwood, chairman of the BMA’s consultant committee, said: “It is important that no appointments are wasted at a time when the NHS is under incredible stress.

“We should not stigmatise patients who may for legitimate reasons be unable to attend.

“However, we do need the NHS to emphasise through clear publicity to the public that, given the current unprecedented pressure, patients should make every possible effort to rearrange their appointment so that another person is able to receive treatment in their place.”

At Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, out of the 286,043 outpatient appointments, eight per cent did not show up.

The figures show 5,550 people failed to make their first appointment.

A further of 16,816, or 8%, did not appear for a subsequent meeting.

A spokesperson for the Royal said: “Personal circumstances change and we appreciate that for lots of different reasons some patients might not always be able to make a planned hospital appointment. We urge anyone that can no longer attend to let us know straight away though – our contact number is on every appointment letter we send out and if we have a mobile number on record we’ll send a text message reminder a week before. The sooner we know about a cancellation, the more likely we are to be able to offer that slot to someone else, which means that vital NHS money, time and resources don’t go to waste.”

The spokesperson added: “This month we’re improving how we book follow-up appointments, to give our patients more choice. If they need to return to hospital six weeks later or more, we’ll write to them nearer the time and ask them to contact our appointment team. They can arrange a date and time that’s convenient to them; and when they are likely to know more about their short-term commitments.”