Research conducted by Healthwatch Lincolnshire has found that missed GP appointments in Lincolnshire cost the NHS an average of £6,632,000 annually.
The report, which was based on research conducted from November 2013 and May 2014, highlighted the average number of missed appointments per year in the county as 184,224.
Of the 101 surgeries operating across Lincolnshire, 38 agreed to support the research and worked alongside the Healthwatch Lincolnshire service.
In addition, 427 people from Lincolnshire responded by completing a patient survey as part of data gathering.
The NHS feedback service took on the research as the DNA (did not attend) mark becomes an increasing concern for many surgeries.
Further evidence was also gathered from Patient Participation Groups who confirmed that weekly missed appointments at their surgery was having an impact on patient’s ability to get an appointment to see their GP.
One surgery said: “Although our DNA rate is low in comparison to some organisations it is still a colossal waste of clinical time, money and effort.
“In some cases patients book and DNA on the same day. There is also a cost to the remainder of our patients who have to wait for appointments.”
The highest number of recorded DNAs in one surgery was 454 in November, and the lowest was 28 in March/April.
Some 33% of patients admitted to forgetting to attend their appointment, even though 80% of GP surgeries in Lincolnshire have online booking appointment systems and 60% of respondents have text message appointment reminders.
Nationally, 11.7% of all appointments across the NHS are unattended – costing an estimated £600 million per year.
Healthwatch Lincolnshire states reasons why non-attendance drains resources, such as the cost of NHS GP appointments, under-utilisation of the workforce and paitent health.
The report also broke down DNA appointments relating to the GP surgeries based in each of the four Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Groups:
Patients’ reasons for not attending pre-booked appointments were:
In conclusion of the research, Healthwatch Lincolnshire suggests a few ways attendance can be improved including electronic message appointment reminders and “better education of patients about their medical condition”.
Dr Sunil Hindocha, Chief Clinical Officer at West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group commented: “We welcome the report as it highlights some key issues. The DNA rate is 4% which means that 96% of our patients are keeping their appointments. In the context that there are a million GP appointments nationally on a daily basis, it is a low rate overall.
“As a GP, we want to spend time with our patients and also value the continuity of care. It can be frustrating when we have people who book in on the day and then do not attend.
“We are working with our patient groups to try and publicise the problem and make all patients aware of the importance of keeping appointments. By booking an appointment and not keeping it denies another patient to see the GP or nurse”
Healthwatch Lincolnshire came into effect on 1st April 2013, as an independent organisation and formed as a registered charity and Company Limited by Guarantee.
The organisation, with the overarching body Healthwatch England, responds to information requests for health and social care bodies as well as making reports and recommendations.