PATIENTS who failed to keep hospital appointments cost Glasgow’s health board almost £6.5million last year - enough to fund an extra 190 nurses or treat dozens of patients with new cancer drugs.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the highest number of “did not attend” appointments in Scotland with 51,490 in the 2016/17 financial year or 11.8% of appointments and a third of the country’s total.

The estimated cost of a missed appointment is £125, which means that missed hospital appointments will have cost NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde £6,436,250.

The health board said missed appointment not only wasted vital resources but denied other patients speedier appointments for specialist treatment.

NHS Lanarkshire had the second highest number of missed appointments, with 13,509 of ‘no shows’ out of a total of 141,106 new referrals, followed by NHS Ayrshire and Arran, which had a 9.5% rate.

The figures were released in response to a parliamentary question by Miles Briggs, Conservative MSP for Lothian, who asked for the number of missed appointments for each board area.

NHSGGC introduced an automated text and call reminders system last year but said that it is looking to further develop the technology whereby patients must respond to the message.

Previous research has indicated that young men in the 20s are the worst offenders for failing to keep a hospital appointment while older patients aged 70-74 are the most reliable.

Annie Wells, Conservative MSP for Glasgow, said: “Whilst appointments will always be missed, it is very concerning to see that more than one in ten appointments are being missed in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

“The cost of this to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde is huge and I urge the Scottish Government to take decisive action.

“With the extra strain this puts on our health service, the Scottish Government must take full advantage of the technology available to send out reminder e-mails and texts.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “Missed outpatient appointments are a major concern for the NHS and it is not only a waste of vital staff resources but also means many other patients are missing out on the opportunity for specialist treatment.

“A substantial number of appointments are lost each month when patients forget to cancel and then do not turn up.

“In an attempt to reduce this number, more than a year ago we introduced text reminders and automated call reminders for patients.

“We are looking to develop the text messages further to allow interaction from patients, in order that we can maximise our capacity further.

“NHSGGC is also in the process of implementing a patient focussed booking system, which will give patients options around their appointment, resulting in a date and time which is suitable to them. Both these systems have a proven track record of reducing DNA rates.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson added: “There are various Health Boards using a text message service to remind patients of their appointments within several specialties.  

"However, it is every patient's responsibility to keep their NHS appointment and it is important that they let the hospital know when they cannot attend.”