MISSED GP appointments in mid Essex cost the NHS almost £3million in the past year, new figures have revealed.

More than 65,000 appointments were wasted at GP surgeries in mid Essex in the 12 months to October.

A study last year estimated the average nine-minute face-to-face appointment with a GP costs £42, meaning that in the past year patient no-shows have cost the NHS £2.8million.

Adam Cayley, chief operating officer for the NHS in the east of England, urged patients to let their GP surgery know if they no longer need an appointment.

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He said: “We know timely access to GP appointments is incredibly important and we’re doing all we can to see more patients.

“However, we’re asking patients to please play their part too – firstly, by calling 111 for advice when ill, and then calling for a GP appointment, if one is required, rather than going straight to A&E.

“Finally, if you get an appointment, but no longer need it, please let your surgery know so that appointment can be freed up for others who are ill.”

New figures published by the NHS also reveal a third of GP appointments in mid Essex in October took place on the same day they were booked.

“Many of us will have heard stories of people struggling to get a GP appointment and going straight to an A&E instead, where they don’t really need to be,” Mr Cayley added.

“But this increase in appointments shows that’s not a true picture for our region, with many patients getting seen on the same day they call.”

Figures published in September revealed huge differences in the service levels offered at GP practices across the county.

Guidance issued by the Department of Health and Social Care in May said GP surgeries should offer non-urgent appointments within two weeks, or otherwise refer patients to call NHS 111 or visit a pharmacy.

The Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board previously said it is working with practices and primary care networks to develop a local response to the national plan to recover access to primary care services.