MORE than 20,000 appointments were missed at University Hospitals Dorset during 11 months of the Covid-19 pandemic, figures show.

And the hospital trust, which covers the Royal Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole hospitals, potentially lost more than £3 million as a result.

The failed appointments waste time and heap pressure on consultants who already face “extraordinary demand” due to the virus, says the British Medical Association.

NHS Digital data shows that in the 11 months from April last year, there were 21,675 outpatient appointments which people did not show up for.

It means out of 263,850 booked sessions, eight per cent were unattended.

And with the average outpatient appointment costing £160 – as estimated by several NHS trusts – the no-shows may have cost University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust around £3.5 million.

Across England's health providers, five million appointments were missed during the same period to the end of February, around seven per cent of those booked – wasting the NHS an estimated £760 million.

Dr Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chairman, said it was “concerning” to see the rate of failed appointments given the current backlog in care.

He said: “We urge people not to just simply fail to attend as this wastes an appointment time that could have been used for someone else; someone who might potentially need it more urgently.

“It also places the most pressure on consultants trying to deliver a service under extraordinary demand and in already difficult circumstances.”

At University Hospitals Dorset Trust, the rate of missed hospital appointments was at its highest in August when 10 per cent were no-shows, 1,960 in total.

Across England, the highest rates of people failing to show for appointments were in December and January – coinciding with the second wave of the pandemic.

A spokesperson from NHS England said measures were in place in hospitals to ensure patients remained safe.

They added: "People should continue to attend their medical appointments as normal - if you are unable to attend for any reason, please let us know so your appointment can be filled by another patient who may need it.”

Of the missed appointments at University Hospitals Dorset Trust, 9,285 were first appointments and 12,390 were follow-ups. All figures are rounded to the nearest five.