Patients who miss GP appointments are costing NHS England £216m a year, it has been warned.
More than 15 million consultations are being wasted because patients fail to show up.
The NHS Digital GP appointments data also shows more than 1.2 million GP hours are being wasted each year.
NHS England said each appointment cost an average of £30 ,and the overall expense of patients not cancelling appointments could pay for the annual salary of 2,325 full-time GPs.
Dr Nikki Kanani, acting director of primary care for NHS England, and a GP in south-east London, pointed out that £216m could fund about 58,000 hip operations or 220,000 cataract operations.
“When a patient misses an appointment, my first instinct is to worry. I worry why that person has missed that appointment but then I can’t use that time for somebody else,” she told BBC News. “So I’ll check up on the patient but I’m not able to get anyone else in.”
Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said there may be many reasons why a patient might miss an appointment, and in some cases it can be an indication that something serious is going on for that individual.
Dr Richard Vautrey, the BMA’s GP committee chairman, said practices try to address this problem, but “ultimately patients do need to play their part”.