Patients miss 14 million NHS GP appointments in 2022 – worst areas revealed

Around 14 million GP appointments were not attended by patients in England this year. The government said the missed appointments were a waste of taxpayers’ money.

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Millions of doctor appointments were missed by patients in England this year, costing the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds, official health figures show.

Almost one in every 20 (4.7%) appointments were not attended by patients in England in the first 11 months of 2022, according to NHS Digital figures, equating to 14 million lost appointments. Each day the NHS was losing an average of 42,000 appointments. Data for December has not yet been published so the final figure will be higher. There were also almost 12 million appointments for which the attendance status was not recorded. Patients attended 302 million appointments.

The NHS says the average GP appointment costs £30, meaning that the missed appointments have cost the healthcare system an estimated £421 million. The government described it as a waste of taxpayers money but earlier this year prime minister Rishi Sunak scrapped plans to introduce a £10 charge to patients who fail to turn up to doctor’s appointments. A hypothetical £10 charge on the missed appointments in 2022 could have generated over £140 million. You can see how many appointments were missed in your local area by using the searchable table further down this article.

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The analysis comes as healthcare professionals across the country take industrial action in response to the cost of living crisis and rising inflation.

Areas with the most lost appointments

The proportion of missed appointments varies dramatically across the country. NHS Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board had 3.1% of appointments missed in 2022, the lowest proportion of any Integrated Care Board, while other areas had more than double that percentage missed.

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NHS North East London Integrated Care Board and NHS Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board both had the greatest proportion of lost appointments with 6.4% being missed. NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care Board had the greatest total number of missed appointments with almost 900,000 missed. You can see how your local area fared in 2022 in the searchable table below. Click here if you can’t see the table.

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‘A waste of taxpayers money’

The UK Government urged patients to attend booked GP appointments and said it is investing at least £1.5 billion to create 50 million more appointments a year by 2024.

“Every appointment missed is taxpayers’ money wasted,” said a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson. “We strongly encourage patients to attend their GP appointments. We are incredibly grateful to GPs and their staff, whose hard work ensured that in the 12 months up to October 2022, there were around 93,000 more GP appointments every working day compared to last year.”

An NHS spokesperson added: “Record numbers of people are being treated by the NHS with millions more GP appointments being delivered compared to before the pandemic. The message however to patients is clear and has not changed - it is vital that people seek care when they need it.”

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