Tens of thousands of GP appointments missed in Wigan during pandemic

Health chiefs have expressed frustration at the appointments wasted by patients not turning up for them.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 10:39 am

Analysis of official NHS data reveals five per cent of all appointments with borough doctors booked being April 2020 and February 2021 were missed.

That means that in NHS Wigan Borough CCG there were 44,317 appointments where patients did not attend - the equivalent of some 133 no-shows a day.

Patients booking appointments with their GP and then not actually seeking treatment or advice also has a significant cost to the NHS, which it is estimated loses an average of around £30 per wasted appointment.

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Tens of thousands of GP appointments were wasted in Wigan during the pandemic

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Health chiefs are urging patients to notify their GP practice if they need to cancel an appointment so it can be used for someone else.

The missed appointments include face-to-face appointments with family GPs and other practice staff, as well as home visits, telephone calls and video conferencing appointments.

The data shows that between last April and this February there were 964,721 GP appointments booked in the CCG’s area.

NHS Wigan Borough CCG chair Dr Tim Dalton

Of these patients attended 853,545.

As well as the no-shows there were a further 66,859 appointments where it is not known if the GP actually saw a patient or not.

Wigan’s rate for patients not attending booked sessions with health professionals is slightly above the one for England as a whole during the pandemic, which stood at four per cent.

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said it can be “frustrating” when patients don’t attend their GP appointments as the slot could be used for another patient.

That is a message which has been echoed locally by Dr Tim Dalton, alocal GP and the chair of NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Dr Dalton said: “Whilst I would always encourage everyone to make GP appointments a priority and attend, I completely understand that sometimes it may not be possible for a variety of reasons.

“However, I would ask that people take a moment to let their GP practice know if they can’t make it so it can be made available to someone else.

“Five per cent of appointments being missed may not sound that bad, but in reality every appointment counts in practices, especially if you are the person who has to wait because all the appointments are gone.”

Health chiefs also pointed out that while many cases of patients not going to see their GP are down to human error, missing an appointment could be a warning sign that something is wrong, requiring follow-up action from health workers.

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