Millions lost as more than 25,000 appointments missed at Sherwood Forest Hospitals

Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust lost £3 million last year as a result of thousands of patients not turning up to appointments.

Data from NHS England revealed that in the 12 months to September 2018, 25,387 people either did not show up for an outpatient appointment at the trust, or arrived too late to be seen.

King's Mill Hospital

King's Mill Hospital

With the NHS struggling for funds amid budget cuts and increased demand bosses at the trust, which runs Sutton’s King’s Mill and Mansfield’s Community Hospitals, said it was crucial appointments are not wasted while the health service is under “unprecedented pressure”.

A spokesman for the trust said: “Missed hospital appointments are very frustrating as it deprives other patients the opportunity to be treated in that time slot and is waste of NHS money.

“Generally speaking we are seeing fewer missed appointments than we used to, and the figures show we have less than the national average - but we are working really hard with patients, GPs and our commissioners to further reduce the number.

“All of our new appointments are booked electronically by the patient which gives them control of where and when their appointment is.

“We also send text reminders to patients 7 days, and again at 24 hours, before they are due to be seen.

“Especially at a time when everyone knows that the NHS is under pressure and resources are stretched we would appeal to all patients to let us know as soon as possible if they can’t make an appointment.”

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

This means that the 25,387 missed sessions cost the hospital trust about £3 million.

Nial Dickson.

Nial Dickson.

Dr Robert Harwood, chairman of the British Medical Association’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 Sherwood Forest Hospitals, out of the 348,272 outpatient appointments, seven per cent did not show up.

The figures show 7,510 people failed to make their first appointment, seven per cent of first attendances.

A further of 17,877, or seven per cent again, did not appear for a subsequent meeting.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said: “We need to support patients to make sure they can attend appointments, and be able to easily cancel or reschedule them.

“We need to make sure we are not asking patients to attend unnecessary appointments and we welcome the NHS Plan proposal cut face-to-face outpatient appointments by one third over the next five years.

“Text reminders and host of other measures and more technology will make life easier both for patients and the service, but as patients we all need to do our bit.”

Across England’s health providers, more than 5.8 million appointments were missed in the year to September 2018, which cost the NHS around £700 million.