MISSED GP appointments in north Essex cost the NHS almost £4million in the past year, new figures have revealed.

More than 92,000 appointments were wasted at GP surgeries in Colchester and Tendring in the 12 months to October.

A study last year estimated the average nine-minute face-to-face appointment with a GP costs £42, meaning that in the past year patient no-shows have cost the NHS £3.9million.

Adam Cayley, chief operating officer for the NHS in the east of England, urged patients to let their GP surgery know if they no longer need an appointment.

He said: “We know timely access to GP appointments is incredibly important and we’re doing all we can to see more patients.

“However, we’re asking patients to please play their part too – firstly, by calling 111 for advice when ill, and then calling for a GP appointment, if one is required, rather than going straight to A&E.

“Finally, if you get an appointment, but no longer need it, please let your surgery know so that appointment can be freed up for others who are ill.”

New figures published by the NHS also reveal more than a third of GP appointments in north Essex in October took place on the same day they were booked.

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

“Many of us will have heard stories of people struggling to get a GP appointment and going straight to an A&E instead, where they don’t really need to be,” Mr Cayley added.

“But this increase in appointments shows that’s not a true picture for our region, with many patients getting seen on the same day they call.”

Earlier this year, Matt Carter, practice manager at Mill Road Surgery in Colchester, estimated no-shows result in a loss of at least 300 hours of clinical time each year for his surgery alone.

Rachael Morant, a GP at the surgery, said: “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.”