NEARLY 2,000 appointments are lost every year at one GP surgery to patients not turning up, frustrated practice staff have revealed.

Figures provided to the Gazette reveal patients didn’t show up to 1,794 appointments at Mill Road Surgery, in Mill Road, Colchester, in the 12 months to July.

Practice manager Matt Carter estimated no-shows result in a loss of at least 300 hours of clinical time for the surgery each year.

He explained: “That’s assuming they’re 10-minute appointments, but a lot of those could be appointments which take a lot longer. That minimum 300 hours is perhaps more like 400 hours of clinical time lost.”

Gazette: Health workers - GP Rachael Morant and practice manager Matt CarterHealth workers - GP Rachael Morant and practice manager Matt Carter (Image: Newsquest)

The surgery, which is among the highest rated in Colchester by patients, tries to make it as easy as possible for its patients by sending out reminders by text message and introducing an automated telephone line for cancellations.

Same-day appointments are available for those who need them and a duty doctor works through a list of patients who don’t make it through the 8am rush, which in recent weeks has receptionists answer up to 260 calls within the first hour of telephone lines opening.

Partner Rachael Morant, who has spent 12 of her 21 years as a GP at the surgery, explained the surgery adheres to the Government’s guidance to offer patients an appointment within two weeks.

Gazette: Practice - Mill Road Surgery, in Mill Road, ColchesterPractice - Mill Road Surgery, in Mill Road, Colchester (Image: Newsquest)

Dr Morant added: “I know some other surgeries have a certain number of no-shows before you’re off the list and we haven’t ever exercised that as a practice.

“I think there are sometimes extenuating circumstances and I don’t think we want to be draconian about things here.

“If patients did cancel their appointments we could at least offer it to somebody else but I think that because we are free and we are open then for some people it doesn’t necessarily hold a lot of value.”

Mill Road Surgery isn’t alone in its struggles with practices across Colchester and the rest of the UK losing valuable time to missed appointments.

During a visit to the practice by the Gazette this week, three patients had not turned up for their appointments within the first 90 minutes of the day.