Written by

Christian Beadell - Partner, Head of Strategy and Legal Operations

The cost of missed appointments to the NHS is huge, with around 1 in 15 medical appointments not attended, and recent data from the NHS has shown that this continues to be an issue in the UK.

Members of the public have started to realise, now more so than ever, how important it is to do their bit to keep our NHS functioning at its best and not waste funds or resources. One thing that everyone can do to avoid wasting NHS funds is to ensure that they attend their GP appointment when booked in or cancel ahead of time if they cannot attend.


How Much Does a Missed Appointment Cost the NHS?

 Each missed GP appointment costs the NHS an average of £30 per person (Source: NHS).

This figure quickly adds up the more that appointments are missed. Collectively, in England from June 2022-December 2022, an estimated £290,323,500 of NHS funds has been wasted due to people not attending their appointment slots. This figure is a result of 4.9% of total appointments being missed during this time period.

Cost of Missed Appointments Data Across the UK

Through analysing NHS data, we have been able to rank the areas in the UK which have the highest proportion of missed GP appointments, and which regions have cost the NHS the most money as a result.


Which Areas In The UK Have Had The Most Missed Appointments and How Much Does It Cost The NHS?

London came out as the area with the highest percentage of missed appointments in the UK, with over 6.2% of all appointments unattended in the past year. As a result, this has cost the local NHS an estimated £54,056,790 between June-December 2022 –

Below we have ranked the regions of the UK in terms of the highest proportion of missed appointments:

  1. London (6.25% of appointments in London missed)
  2. North West (5.93% of appointments in the North West missed)
  3. South East (4.88% of appointments in the South East missed)
  4. Midlands (4.86% of appointments in the Midlands missed)
  5. North East and Yorkshire (4.3% of appointments in the North East and Yorkshire missed)
  6. South West (4.17% of appointments in the South West missed)
  7. East of England (3.95% of appointments in the East of England missed)

Whilst London has the highest ratio of missed GP appointments out of all areas surveyed, the Midlands actually has the highest cost to its local NHS trust as a result of missed general practice appointments. This area’s missed appointments bill stacks up to an enormous £55,613,250 between June-December 2022.


Causes of Missed Doctors Appointments

Missed appointments are not always due to carelessness or forgetfulness. According to the British Journal of General Practice report, one of the main reasons for missed appointments is financial difficulties, with patients unable to get to their appointments or being unable to take the time off work to attend appointments. People will also sometimes experience issues out of their control such as transport delays or family/childcare commitments which can result in missed appointments.

Data from an official NHS report shows that there were an estimated 290,000 missed face-to-face GP appointments and 98,000 telephone missed GP appointments in January 2023 showing that a large number of face-to-face appointments were missed.

Overall, 91.9% of all appointments were attended in January 2023 however there were still an estimated one million missed appointments.


Methodology and Data Sources

The data used throughout this article was collected using an official NHS report covering missed appointments up from June 2022 until December 2022.

The total cost to the NHS was calculated by multiplying the raw number of missed appointments by the NHS-released figure that each missed GP appointment costs the NHS which is an average of £30.

Missed appointments waste resources and can contribute towards delays in treatment of other patients that could have been seen sooner. We have released this research in order to raise awareness of the effects of missing your GP appointment, or not calling to cancel, which many members of the public may not be aware of.

The NHS are working hard to reduce the amount of no shows by sending appointment reminders and considering remote appointments where appropriate, however, the general public should also work towards reducing the amount of missed appointments to support the NHS. In order to do our bit to support the NHS, we recommend adhering to your local surgery’s cancellation policy to ensure that, if you are unable to make the appointment, other patients can be seen and GP time is not wasted.

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