Patients failed to show up for more than 77,000 GP appointments across mid Essex last year, shocking new figures have revealed.

NHS Digital data shows an estimated 77,198 appointments was missed – without enough notice to invite other patients.

This amounts to a whopping 211 a day in the Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group area, which covers the districts of Braintree and Maldon and the city of Chelmsford.

This includes appointments with nurses, therapists and other practice staff, as well as doctors.

A missed GP appointment costs around £30, according to NHS England, meaning the CCG could have lost out on about £2.3 million through patient no-shows last year.

One in every 38 appointments booked at CCG-monitored GP practices in mid Essex were missed last year.

The Royal College of GPs says missed appointments are “frustrating” for doctors but warned that non-attendance could be for many reasons, including underlying mental health issues.

Chairman Professor Martin Marshall said: “Charging for appointments – missed or otherwise – would fundamentally change one of the founding principles of the NHS, that access is free at the point of need. It is also unlikely that the benefits of such an approach would outweigh the costs of implementing it.

“GP practices are working hard to ensure that patients are aware of their appointments by sending reminders by text and email or encouraging them to make appointments through the surgery app. However, it would be helpful if practices had more time and resource to follow up patients they might have particular concerns about.” More than 15 million people across England failed to turn up to booked GP appointments last year.

An NHS England spokesman said: “The message is clear – if you cannot make it to your appointment or no longer need a consultation please let your GP practice know in advance so the appointment can be filled by another.”