Missed hospital appointments have cost Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust more than £7.5m in three years.
In real terms this figure over the same period equates to the salaries of 70 nurses a year or buying seven MRI scanners.
The shocking statistics were obtained by the Advertiser through a Freedom of Information request and reveal that in a three-year period 61,764 outpatients did not attend their appointments.
The average cost of a missed outpatient appointment is £123. Of the 267,756 outpatient appointments last year, 247,605 were treated, but 20,151 did not attend – equating to 7.52%.
Hospital bosses said that with 61,764 outpatients in three years failing to tell the hospital they were unable to attend – one effect was that these slots could not be offered to others.
A trust spokesman said: “We know there are many reasons why people cannot attend appointments.
“However, it is helpful if patients let us know they are unable to attend. Another appointment can then be scheduled for a more appropriate date and time.
“We also have a service that sends a text message reminding patients of their appointment."
Of the two hospital sites it was Ormskirk that came out worst with 34,545 missed appointments between 2011 and 2013 – with a peak of 11,784 failing to attend during 2011.
At Southport hospital more than 27,219 appointments were missed in that same period – with 2013 as the worst for no-shows – topping 9,269.
Responding to the FoI figures, West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said: “This data shows patients missing appointments does have consequences, it is a huge cost to the NHS.
“It is vital people understand that missing their appointment not only wastes vital NHS money but also means that this money cannot be used to provide other services even save lives.
“What we need is for hospitals to effectively manage their appointment systems and for patients to attend or at least notify the hospital if they can't attend.
“When £20bn is being cut from the NHS we cannot afford to lose £7.5m in missed appointments.”
Southport Lib Dem MP – Dr John Pugh said: “These figures are very disturbing.
“The NHS with an aging population is coming under massive pressure and we all have a responsibility to see that it can take the strain.
“We as citizens have a responsibility and that means keeping appointments whenever we can.
“Full marks to the Advertiser for shedding light on this issue and pointing out that we can all do our bit to help our local NHS cope.”
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