Patients missed hundreds of appointments at Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust last year, figures reveal.
Medical professionals say that people who miss – or are late for – appointments are depriving someone else of help at a time of stretched resources.
NHS Digital data shows there were that 19,415 care contact appointments with a recorded attendance in the 12 months to April.
Care contacts can be done in person or by telephone, and cover a range of services including district nursing, occupational therapy, and health visiting.
They are provided by hospitals, health centres and other bodies such as councils.
But patients at Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust failed to attend 885 of these, or arrived too late to be seen.
It means around one in 20 appointments at the trust were missed in the period.
Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said that not showing up for an appointment could lead to someone needing more serious help later, which might have been avoided otherwise.
“These are services put on to help keep the population as healthy and as functional as they can,” he added.
“At a time when finance and resources are so tightly stretched, anyone who does not attend an appointment, for whatever reason, has generally deprived someone else of the available time.”
Patients cancelled a further 1,160 appointments, although in these cases they told the trust in advance.
Across England, there were around 58 million care contacts in the period.
This only includes those recorded as attended, appointments cancelled by the provider or patient, and those the patient missed.
People missed or were too late to be seen for 2.5 million appointments – around 4%.
NHS Digital, which published the data, urges caution in interpreting the figures at a national level, as the number of organisations submitting data varies from month to month.
An NHS England spokesperson said: “The NHS is treating record numbers of patients but could be treating even more if people arrived on time, or if appointments were not missed, which is why hospitals ask patients to let them know if they can’t make their appointment so they can be filled by someone else.”
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.