DNAs (did not attends) account for over 15 million general practice appointments each year in England.
NHS England recently reported that out of 307 million sessions scheduled with GPs, nurses, therapists and other practice staff every year, 5 per cent are missed without sufficient notice. That works out at around 15.4 million missed slots.
Around 7.2 million of these are with GPs, which adds up to more than 1.2 million GP hours wasted each year – or the equivalent of over 600 GPs working full time for a year.
NHS England estimates that each appointment costs an average of £30, putting the total cost to the NHS of DNAs at more than £216m.
Commenting on the findings, Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: "Every appointment at a GP practice is precious, especially at a time when GP services are struggling to cope with rising patient demand, staff shortages and inadequate budgets.
"With an ageing population, many patients are needing more appointments and more time with their doctor. In this environment, it is really important for patients to do all they can to make the most of appointments provided to them and to inform their local practice if they cannot attend a previously booked consultation.
"Practices will try many ways to address this problem, but ultimately patients do need to play their part. With the NHS finances under historic strain, it's vital that don't waste the resources we currently have."