Missed hospital appointments ‘cost NHS 1bn a year’
Missed hospital appointments are costing the NHS £1bn a year, according to the service’s Chief Nursing Officer.
Jane Cummings has called for the public to stop wasting time and resources as the NHS enters what is expected to be one of its busiest weeks of the year.
According to Ms Cummings, the cash wasted on missed appointments could be used to fund 250,000 extra hip replacements.
The NHS’s most senior nurse also urged patients not to make unnecessary trips to A&E departments, saying many complaints could instead be dealt with by local pharmacists.
The president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Taj Hassan, said: “In increasing numbers of departments, conditions are just awful and staff are stretched to the limit just trying to deliver safe care.”
He added that NHS chiefs had been asking patients to go elsewhere for 20 years “and it hasn’t worked in the past, so we need to do things differently”.
Official figures show that 7.9m NHS appointments were missed last year, which at an average cost of £120 per slot indicates that around £950m was wasted.
This follows a warning from Labour that the service is “sleepwalking into a crisis" over the number of available beds on NHS wards.
Official figures show that between June 2016 and June 2016, 90% of hospital beds were classed as "occupied" - the highest rate since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
NHS data also shows that the figure has consistently been above the so-called "safe occupancy rate" of 85%.
Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth told PoliticsHome: "For a government which prides itself on patient safety, these shocking bed occupancy figures stand as a damning indictment of Theresa May’s failure to properly run our NHS.
"It is completely unacceptable that the 85% bed occupancy target for general and acute hospital services has been missed every quarter for more than seven years, resulting in patient safety being compromised on a regular basis.
"Winter is already underway and it’s evident that this government is sleepwalking into crisis. This shambles cannot continue."