According to the latest NHS figures, more than 1.1 million GP slots were logged as ‘did not attend’ from May 2021 to April 2022, across Yorkshire.
For the Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), more than 60,000 appointments were missed and 71,757 were put down as ‘unknown’ as there was no record as to whether a patient turned up or not.
More than 1.2 million appointments were attended by the town’s residents - but with a 4.5 per cent missed rate, the town’s CCG is the third-worst in the county.
A recent study, led by the Personal Services Research Unit, found that the average nine-minute GP consultation cost around £39 in 2020.
Using that figure, the no-show costing to Barnsley CCG amounts to more than £2.3m.
Dr Madhavi Guntamukkala, medical director of the CCG, told the Chronicle: “Missed appointments are very frustrating, especially when GP staff could be seeing other patients - we know how precious appointments are but, for some people, there may be more complex reasons for non-attendance.
“In many cases, missed appointments will be people forgetting but with at least 5,000 missed appointments in Barnsley each month, there are too many people who simply don’t turn up.
“We also know that people sometimes didn’t need the appointment in the first place and have got better or seen their pharmacy.
“However, we do know that non-attendance can also indicate something more serious, such as underlying mental health issues.
“At a time when we have more people wanting a GP appointment and sometimes waiting longer than they’d like to see someone, we would urge people who don’t need their appointment to contact the surgery at the earliest possible opportunity so that valuable GP time can be used for the benefit of others.”
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, has urged residents to contact their GP surgery as soon as they know they are unable to attend the appointment as there are consequences for other people.
“For some patients, missing appointments can be a sign that something more serious is going on, and that follow-up action is needed,” he said.
“For some, it will have been a case of human error or other aspects of life taking priority.
“For others, particularly if the appointment was long-standing, it may have no longer been needed.
“And it might not seem like a big deal to miss a ten-minute appointment, but the unintended consequences are that other patients are being kept waiting.”