£200 million wasted by patients missing hospital appointments

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the largest number of missed appointments (Picture by Christopher Sessums)

MISSED hospital appointments have cost Scottish NHS boards more than £200 million in the last three years, it has been revealed.

The staggering waste of money has been blasted as a “disgrace” by a health watchdog, who say the money could be better spent improving the health service.

More than two million appointments were missed by patients between 2008 and 2010, with each slot costing £100 on average.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that patients under NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde failed to attend the most outpatient appointments, with 819,294 missing their slot.

Orkney had the lowest number of missed appointments at 3,345.

While most health boards were unable to provide exactly how much non-attendance was costing them, based on the average cost of £100 per appointment the bill comes to £207, 783,500.

But will costs differing depending on the appointment type – seeing a consultant costs £135 – the true bill could be much higher.


Scotland Patients’ Association chair Margaret Watt branded the no-shows “unacceptable”.

She said: “This money could be better spent on bringing more doctors and nurses in to improve the health service and on better drugs for cancer patients.”

Robet Oxley, Campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said the NHS needed to work to reduce the number of missed appointments.

He said: “Making it easier for patients to attend and alter appointments will reduce the number that are missed, helping save money in the long run that would otherwise be wasted.

“Text and email reminders are employed by some hospitals to help reduce the number of missed appointments.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Everyone in the NHS in Scotland works hard to ensure top quality care for every patient, every time.

“We are committed to protecting the NHS in Scotland but, in times when resources are tight, it is vital that patients take responsibility to keep their appointments and help out NHS be as efficient as possible.”




Number of missed appointments over the last three years.

1NHS Ayrshire and Arran146,055
2NHS Borders19,200
3NHS Dumfries and Galloway32,359
4NHS Western Isles10,785
5NHS Fife110,836
6NHS Forth Valley61,152
7NHS Grampian115,308
8NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde819,294
9NHS Highland52,285
10NHS Lanarkshire172,574
11NHS Lothian374,917
12NHS Orkney3,345
13NHS Shetland3,859
14NHS Tayside155,866