More than 33,000 missed appointments in a year at Shropshire NHS trust
Patients missed tens of thousands of appointments at the trust which runs community health services in Shropshire last year, new figures have revealed.
Medical professionals say that people who miss – or are late for – appointments are depriving someone else of help at a time of stretched resources.
NHS Digital data shows there were 836,820 care contact appointments with a recorded attendance in the 12 months to April at Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (Shropcom).
Care contacts can be done in person or by telephone, and cover a range of services including district nursing, occupational therapy and health visiting.
They are provided by hospitals, health centres and other bodies such as councils.
But patients at Shropcom failed to attend 33,585 of these, or arrived too late to be seen.
It means around one in 25 appointments at the trust were missed in the period.
Steve Gregory, director of nursing at Shropcom, said: “When patients miss appointments it can be frustrating for our teams, but also for other patients who are struggling to book an appointment for themselves.
"There may be multiple reasons why a patient might miss an appointment, and in some cases it can be an indication that something serious is going on for that individual – but we would urge patients to let us know if they can’t attend as soon as possible, so that we can offer that time to someone else who really needs it and offer support/advice to the patient themselves.”
Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said that not showing up for an appointment could lead to someone needing more serious help later, which might have been avoided otherwise.
“These are services put on to help keep the population as healthy and as functional as they can,” he added.
“At a time when finance and resources are so tightly stretched, anyone who does not attend an appointment, for whatever reason, has generally deprived someone else of the available time.”
Patients cancelled a further 13,005 appointments, although in these cases they told the trust in advance.
Across England, there were around 58 million care contacts in the period.
This only includes those recorded as attended, appointments cancelled by the provider or patient, and those the patient missed.
People missed or were too late to be seen for 2.5 million appointments – around four per cent.
NHS Digital, which published the data, urges caution in interpreting the figures at a national level, as the number of organisations submitting data varies from month to month.
An NHS England spokesperson said: “The NHS is treating record numbers of patients but could be treating even more if people arrived on time, or if appointments were not missed, which is why hospitals ask patients to let them know if they can’t make their appointment so they can be filled by someone else.”
Shropcom provides community-based health services for adults and children in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, and some services in surrounding areas.
These range from district nursing, health visiting and running four community hospitals, through to providing specialist community care.