MORE than 14,300 patients have already missed appointments at Crosshouse Hospital this year - an issue which costs the NHS nationally £800million a year.

Figures obtained by the Times from the National Health Service under a Freedom of Information request shows the number of patients failing to attend appointments at the hospital shot up by almost 300 from the same time last year.

Between January and June 2014, 14,051 patients missed hospital appointments whereas during the same months this year, 14,348 patients failed to attend - a hike of 297 people failing to attend.

In a breakdown of those figures we can reveal that the number of review patients (patients returning after initial care) that didn’t show up increased significantly with 10,461 patients this year compared to 9,977 last year - an increase of 484.

However the number of new patients failing to show at Crosshouse Hospital fell from 4,074 in 2014 to 3,887 in 2015 - a drop of 187.

The overall rise in missed appointments follows the national trend, with figures showing that more than 800,000 were not attended in Scotland last year.

Ideas to curb the problem have included a proposal from the Scottish Conservatives to possibly fine patients who miss appointments - but the SNP government have ruled out any charges.

Liz Moore, Director for Acute Services of NHS Ayrshire and Arran, has urged patients to attend their hospital appointments as not doing so has a detrimental affect on the health service.

She said: “NHS Ayrshire and Arran’s aim is to ensure that as many patients as possible receive the care they need, when they need it.

“However, every year thousands of appointments are wasted when patients do not turn up. Not only does this cost the NHS millions of pounds, it means that other patients who need to see a clinician miss out on the chance of an appointment slot, and this can increase waiting times.

“We have introduced various systems to reduce the number of missed outpatient appointments – for example, text reminder service.

“The text reminder service texts patients with details of the date, time and location of their appointments, for both new and repeat appointments. If the patient is not able to attend their appointment, they can then telephone the appointment booking centre to cancel or reschedule.  “For patients who would rather not receive a text reminder and wish to opt out of the service, they are able to call the referral management service. So that the system can work effectively, it is important that we have up-to-date contact details, including a mobile number.” Philippa Whitford MP, Health spokesperson for the SNP in Westminster and former surgeon, believes patients must contact the hospital as soon as possible to cancel appointments which they cannot make.

She said: “Unattended appointments waste precious NHS resources and cause other patients to wait longer to be seen. It is disappointing that almost 30,000 appointments are lost each year.

“While I understand there are many reasons that someone cannot keep a hospital appointment, it is important that patients contact the hospital so that their slot may be offered to another patient.”