GP surgeries are urging people to let them know if they cannot make a GP appointment as it was revealed that missed appointments are costing the NHS £6m a year in Lincolnshire alone.
Healthwatch Lincolnshire said that during early 2014 it was made aware from both Patient Participation Groups and GP surgeries that there was an increasing number of patients not attending appointments, which was “dramatically impacting surgeries”.
As reported in the Journal in January, thousands of appointments are being wasted in Grantham every year.
In 2015 alone, St John’s Medical Centre, in London Road, recorded 5,500 missed appointments, which practice manager Julie Hadlow said created “frustration for both staff and patients”.
At St Peter’s Hill Surgery, the last six months of 2015 saw 2,680 appointments missed, averaging 383 per month and equating to 77 hours of GPs’ and nurses’ time wasted every month.
Vine House Surgery, in Vine Street, told the Journal that 150 appointment slots were missed every month, while Harrowby Lane Surgery said that, in total, more than 1,000 appointments were missed over the course of the year.
Healthwatch Lincolnshire found, through a survey, that one in four people had booked an appointment in the last year and could not attend. It said a “staggering” 33 per cent of patients admitted to forgetting their appointment.
But the group did find that 56 per cent of those unable to attend were between the ages of 50 and 89, prompting GP’s to recognise that vulnerable patients need more support to be put in place.
Chief executive officer of Healthwatch Lincolnshire Sarah Fletcher said: “Concerns have been raised by both professionals and patients particularly with how the significant levels of non-attendance is impacting services.
“To help those involved better understand what some of the barriers are Healthwatch has recently conducted a patient survey, the results of which are available in our report.
“When we started this work we did not have any idea what the results would reveal, patients told us transport and administration were the top two reasons.
“We have now shared our report with the organisations who are delivering and paying for the services to help them identify what changes need to be put in place to help with this costly issue.”
The report can be read at www.healthwatch-lincolnshire.co.uk
n What should be done to reduce missed appointments? Email comment@grantham journal.co.uk