GP surgeries are urging people to let them know if they cannot make a doctors appointments 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”.
In Bourne, the assistant practice manager at the Hereward Group Practice in Exeter Street, Tracey Mason said it was a problem all surgeries faced.
She urged patients to ring the surgery if they could not make their appointment so another patient could take the slot.
She said: “There are missed appointments for nurses, as well as GPs, so it is a big issue and it’s a strain on our resources.
“We know there are some occasions when people just can’t attend but please try and ring the surgery if that’s the case and let us know.”
The practice has 12,500 patients registered and Tracey said that in an average month, there are 400 missed appointments.
She believes it’s a problem all surgeries are facing.
The practice manager at the Bourne Galletly Medical Practice in North Road was unavailable to comment at the time of going to press.
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.