DORSET'S hospitals are down more than £2 million this year due to patients not turning up to appointments, figures show.

Data from NHS England shows that, between January and June, 9,102 people either did not show up for an outpatient appointment at the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals, or arrived too late to be seen, costing more than £1m.

The figure for Dorset County Hospital was 5,427 people costing more than £600,000, while at Poole Hospital the absence of 4,130 people led to a financial impact of nearly £500k.

With NHS trusts reportedly struggling for funds amid budget cuts and increased demand, the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said patients should "do their bit" to help.

Chief executive Niall Dickson said: "The NHS is short of funding, short of staff and faces ever rising demand for its services.

"With modern communication, the excuses for missed appointments are running out. There will always be some unforeseen circumstances, but in most circumstances it should be possible to cancel appointments.

"Our members across the NHS are doing their bit – many hospitals and other services send out email and text reminders, and increasingly patients can check, book and cancel appointments on line.

"We would all acknowledge that the NHS can do more and using technology better will make life easier both for patients and the service. But patients can also do their bit – making the NHS as efficient as it can be, is in everyone’s interest."

The overall cost of absences is calculated from that of the average outpatient appointment, £120 according to the latest NHS resources cost data.

The data shows that out of 142,583 outpatient appointments at Bournemouth during the first half of the year, six per cent did not show up.

While 3,094 people failed to make their first appointment, a further 6,008 did not appear for a subsequent meeting.

Absences totalled six per cent of patient appointments at Dorset County and seven per cent at Poole.

At Dorset 1,620 people failed to make the first appointment, and 3,807 the next. At Poole the figures were 1,707 first and 2,423 follow-up.

Dr Robert Harwood, chairman of the British Medical Association's consultant committee, said: “It is important that no appointments are wasted at a time when the NHS is under incredible stress.

"We should not stigmatise patients who may for legitimate reasons be unable to attend.

"However, we do need the NHS to emphasise through clear publicity to the public that given the current unprecedented pressure, patients should make every possible effort to rearrange their appointment so that another person is able to receive treatment in their place."

Across health providers over England nearly 2.9 million appointments were missed between January and June, which cost the NHS around £350 million.