East Suffolk and North Essex Trust potentially lost more than £6 million due to thousands of missed appointments through the pandemic, figures show.

The failed appointments waste time and heap pressure on consultants who already face “extraordinary demand” due to the virus, according to the British Medical Association.

NHS Digital data shows that in the 11 months from April last year, there were 41,965 outpatient appointments which people did not show up for.

It means out of 1,180,775 booked sessions, four per cent were unattended.

And with the average outpatient appointment costing £160 – as estimated by several NHS trusts – the no-shows may have cost East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust about £6.7 million.

Across England’s health providers, five million appointments were missed during the same period to the end of February, about seven per cent of those booked – wasting the NHS an estimated £760 million.

Dr Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chairman, said it was “concerning” to see the rate of failed appointments given the backlog in care.

He said: “We urge people not to just simply fail to attend as this wastes an appointment time that could have been used for someone else; someone who might potentially need it more urgently.

“It also places the most pressure on consultants trying to deliver a service under extraordinary demand and in already difficult circumstances.”

At East Suffolk and North Essex Trust, which runs Colchester Hospital, the rate of missed hospital appointments was at its highest in December when four per cent were no-shows, 5,335 in total.

Across England, the highest rates of people failing to show for appointments were in December and January.

A spokesperson from NHS England said measures were in place in hospitals to ensure patients remained safe.

They added: “People should continue to attend their medical appointments as normal. If you are unable to attend for any reason, please let us know so your appointment can be filled by another patient who may need it.”

Of the missed appointments at East Suffolk and North Essex Trust, 16,580 were first appointments and 25,385 follow-ups.