More than 170,000 GP appointments missed across region in last 12 months

Tens of thousands of GP appointments in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire are being wasted each month due to patients not cancelling in advance when they are unable to attend.

With a total of 170,187 appointments missed in the 12 months between March 2023 and March 2024, patients, along with the families and loved ones who may support them, are being asked to always let their practice know if they cannot make their booking.

Doing this will allow practices to offer appointment slots to other patients, many of whom, particularly those with symptoms that could be the early warning signs of cancer, will be eager to see a GP as quickly as possible.

The average number of missed appointments per month for the last year across all of Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire stood at around 14,000, with higher totals recorded during the winter.

NHS leaders are now calling on patients to help stop a similar pattern from being seen throughout the remainder of 2024.

Dr Barry Coakley, GP and Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said: “With our NHS services under such pressure, we cannot afford to miss any opportunity to help members of our communities.

“Missing an appointment unnecessarily not only increases the waiting time to see a GP but, more importantly, it removes a chance for us to help someone in their time of need.

“We completely understand that people can’t always make their appointment, and our teams are happy to reschedule, but we really need patients, or those supporting them, to contact us as early as possible when they know they won’t be attending.

“If last year’s trend continues, this situation will only get worse and that is unacceptable, which is why we’re asking for the help of our patients and their families.”

Dr Coakley added: “Friends and loved ones can also play an important role in helping the people closest to them.

“Whether it is to those who are older or vulnerable, or to those who are busy juggling their day-to-day pressures, a helpful reminder of their appointments can ensure they do not miss the chance to get their issue addressed.

“In addition, offering to provide lifts to and from the surgery, or giving moral support by accompanying an anxious patient in the waiting room, can also help to reduce the risk of people not attending.”

Most GP practices in the region offer patients the opportunity to cancel their appointment quickly and easily by text message, while some also allow bookings to be managed online and via the NHS App.

Cancellations can be made over the phone too and, in most cases, the appointment can be cancelled by just pressing a number from the list of answerphone options.

Further information on health and care in the local region, as well as details on what services can be accessed and when, can be found online at