Why missed appointments are such a nightmare for GPs: One Sunderland surgery shares its story

The MJOG app, which aims to remind patients not to miss their appointments
The MJOG app, which aims to remind patients not to miss their appointments
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One Sunderland surgery has revealed how up to 10 patients a day are missing their appointments  – with up to 400 a month failing to turn up after booking a slot.

Millfield Medical Centre, in Hylton Road, Sunderland, manages 13,200 residents and on an average month deals with 3,500 appointments.

Related: 38,000 GP appointments missed in Sunderland at cost of £1.14million

Of those, up to 200 are missed by patients who have booked to see one of its nine GPs, while around the same number again fail to attend their appointment with its team of five nurses.

It is among the centres who use the MJOG app, which it says is helping to keep patients on track and give them another avenue to cancel, should they no longer need to see a healthcare professional or not able to make the time and date.

It tries to ensure those who have turned up ready to be seen are then called in as soon as possible, as well as reorganise the diary and free up space for more patients if people call up to cancel.

Its patient group also discusses the issue on a regular basis as it works to reduce the problem.

Related: An eye for an eye? Why we’re just not tough enough on the ignorant masses missing NHS appointments

Its practice business manager Paul Weddle said: “With between 180 and 200 missed appointments a month, that’s a significant chunk of our appointments and at 10 minutes each, that period of time adds up to a good few hours.

With 10 missed appointments a day, that’s time the surgery misses because a GP is waiting for their patient.

“The cost of a GP appointment is £22.60, so if you add how much that costs the NHS with 200 missed appointments, that’s a lot of money.

“From our point of view, we just want to reduce the number.

“It’s really about educating patients that if they can’t make it, they can get in touch to cancel and even if we have half an hour’s notice, then that’s what we need to be able to open that appointment back up to other patients.”