The NHS has been in crisis for some time, with missed appointments being just one of the issues it is currently facing. This high rate of misses causes havoc for both patients and staff.

How many appointments are missed?

In 2020/21, 7.8 million out of 122 million appointments were missed, equating to around 6.4%. This worked out to approximately 650,000 missed appointments every month.

The problem with missing appointments

There are a number of problems caused when people miss their appointment, the main one being the NHS’ ever-increasing waiting list. For every missed appointment, this could have been used to see another patient, who may have been on a waiting list for several months or even years.

There are also medical implications caused when an appointment is missed. Certain treatments need to be conducted within specific time frames in order to be effective and this can be jeopardised when appointments are not attended.

As well as this, there is the logistical resource involved in having to reschedule new appointment dates and times, no mean feat when considering just how many people are in line to receive NHS treatment.

Reasons for missed appointments

There are many reasons why people may miss their scheduled NHS appointments. Some of which include:

Forgetting – We are all guilty of forgetting things every now and then, and appointments are no exception. Many missed appointments are because patients simply forget them. It is also common that people may have noted down the time or date of the appointment wrong, meaning it is missed and requires rescheduling. The best way to avoid this is for patients to ensure their contact information, including phone number, email address, and home address are up to date so that they can receive appointment reminders.

Transport – Another reason why people may miss their appointment is due to transport difficulties, meaning they cannot get there. This could be a range of issues from a broken-down car to unreliable public transport, meaning lateness or absenteeism for an appointment. One option that can be used to get around this is to obtain temporary car insurance, giving higher chances of getting the appointment directly.

Work commitments – Appointments are often scheduled within standard working hours and subsequently they are often missed due to existing or last-minute work commitments. Adding a block of time where meetings cannot be attended is a useful way to avoid last-minute meetings getting added to the diary which means an appointment is missed. It is also vital that this is communicated with immediate colleagues.

Family – Many people attending NHS appointments have family responsibilities. This could include caring for an elderly relative or picking children up from school. This can often mean that appointments are not attended. Making a conscious effort to arrange alternative care during appointment times is an effective way to avoid missing them.