Thousands of missed appointments cost Harrogate NHS Trust close to £2 million
The Harrogate and District NHS Trust potentially lost close to £2 million due to thousands of missed appointments through the pandemic, figures show.
The failed appointments waste time and heap pressure on consultants who already face “extraordinary demand” due to the virus, says the British Medical Association.
NHS Digital data shows that in the 11 months from April last year, there were 12,050 outpatient appointments which people did not show up for.
It means out of 205,030 booked sessions, 6% were unattended.
And with the average outpatient appointment costing £160 - as estimated by several NHS trusts - the no-shows may have cost Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust around £1.9 million.
A spokesperson for the Trust told the Harrogate Advertiser: “If you have a hospital appointment, it’s really important for your own health that you attend it.
“Throughout the pandemic we have done all we can to put in place arrangements to keep people safe if they have had to attend hospital. We also introduced a greater number of telephone and online appointments.
“The Trust’s outpatient DNA rate is lower than the national average, and we didn’t see a significant increase in DNAs during the pandemic.
“Across the country during the pandemic, some patients have been wary of coming to hospital for their appointment. We know that a significant number of patients contacted us ahead of their appointment date to request to cancel or defer their appointments.
“This is really helpful as it allows us to offer appointment slots to other people, but we would much rather people came to their appointment.”
Across England’s health providers, five million appointments were missed during the same period to the end of February, around 7% of those booked - wasting the NHS an estimated £760 million.
Dr Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chairman, said it was “concerning” to see the rate of failed appointments given the current backlog in care.
He said: “We urge people not to just simply fail to attend as this wastes an appointment time that could have been used for someone else; someone who might potentially need it more urgently.
“It also places the most pressure on consultants trying to deliver a service under extraordinary demand and in already difficult circumstances.”
At Harrogate and District Trust, the rate of missed hospital appointments was at its highest in November when 7% were no-shows, 1,605 in total.
Across England, the highest rates of people failing to show for appointments were in December and January - coinciding with the second wave of the pandemic.
A spokesperson from NHS England said: “People should continue to attend their appointments as normal - if you are unable to attend for any reason, please let us know so your appointment can be filled by another patient.”
Of the missed appointments in Harrogate, 3,375 were first appointments and 8,675 were follow-ups - all figures are rounded to the nearest five.