Patients fail to turn up more than 500 times at Cumbrian GP surgery
MORE than 500 appointments at a Cumbrian doctors' surgery have been wasted so far this year by patients failing to turn up.
Since January there have been 578 occasions where patients have failed to keep their appointments at Silloth's GP practice.
Clinicians are urging people who do not want, or no longer need, scheduled appointments to cancel them so others in need can benefit from seeing a doctor or nurse and help ease the strain on under-pressure NHS services.
But the problem isn't an isolated one. Last monthrevealed that there were 116 missed appointments at the Aspatria Medical Group in July alone.
Practice leaders say that this is a problem not only faced by surgeries in Cumbria, but right across the country.
"We are trying to educate patients that if they don't want it please cancel it," Silloth Group Medical Practice's managing partner Karen Thomas said.
"We have to try and stop this happening.
"The impact is that patients who need to see a specific doctor sometimes can't get an appointment."
The month where there were the most no shows at Silloth was in January where appointments were missed 81 times. Last month there were 57 appointments wasted.
While the number is still high Karen said that the surgery has taken steps to help make it easier for patients to cancel unwanted appointments.
"We now use a text messaging service called iPlato which we introduced last month," she added.
"It now seems to have substantially reduced the numbers."
It allows patients to automatically cancel by responding to the text and they are promoting an online access service which allows patients to book and cancel appointments remotely.
They also have open surgeries each morning where patients can get seen by any available doctor without the need for an appointment.
Genrally GP practices across Cumbria report being under significant pressure due to staff shortages and high caseloads with many patients regularly complaining of struggling to get appointments quickly.
So surgeries are hoping that more slots can be freed up by those who no longer need them cancelling.