National Voices responds to missed appointments data

Tue, 2 January 2018

New figures from NHS Digital show that 7.9 million hospital appointments were missed in 2016-17. This represents a decrease in the proportion of missed appointments compared to the previous year.

Commenting on the figures, Jeremy Taylor, Chief Executive of National Voices, the coalition of health and care charities, said:

All of us should use NHS services responsibly and that includes giving hospitals plenty of notice when we are unable to attend planned appointments.

It is promising that there has been a decrease in the proportion of missed appointments. Making it easier to cancel and reschedule appointments would help reduce the numbers further.

There are an infinite number of reasons why people are unable to make planned appointments: people may have already sought urgent help because the waiting list for their appointment was long; there can be a failure to communicate the details or purpose of appointments; people experience difficulties arranging transport; or a lack of flexibility in appointment times offered makes it hard for people to attend.

Many patients will have unpredictable lives, especially those who rely on friends, family, carers, and charities to help them get to planned appointments.

In the absence of a clear understanding of the circumstances in which people miss appointments, these raw data are practically meaningless. It would be sensible to work with patients to understand what gets in the way of them rescheduling appointments.

For further information, contact Andrew Mccracken, National Voices' Head of Communications, on 020 3176 0737 or