More than one million people fail to turn up to GP appointments every month at a cost of more than £200m a year, figures show.
From June to November last year, a record 7.8m patients in England did not attend their appointment, according to NHS Digital data published by the Sunday Times.
On average, there are 42,822 no-shows each day.
About half were to see doctors and half for nurses or other healthcare professionals.
At an average cost of £30 per GP appointment, the problem costs around £20m a month for missed doctors’ appointments alone.
Two years ago, one in 25 patients missed appointments, but this has now risen to more than one in 20.
Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said in many cases missed appointments will be simple human error, however they can also indicate something more serious, such as underlying mental health issues.
Lucy Watson, chairwoman of the Patients Association, told the newspaper it was “striking” that no-shows and A&E attendance were going up rapidly at the same time.
“The NHS needs to investigate these relationships,” she said. “How many of these missed appointments are, for instance, because the patient’s condition has worsened during their long wait, and they have had to seek emergency treatment?”