NHS Tayside has urged patients to keep better track of their appointments after being faced with a bill of more than £277,000 for just one week of missed meetings.
The health board estimates at least one in 10 appointments are wasted every week because of patients fail to turn up, costing £151 each time.
Figures released by NHS Tayside for the past week show 1,840 appointments (12% of all those made across the region) were missed, divesting the cash-strapped health board of a staggering £277,840.
Did Not Attend (DNA) statistics relating to the quarter ending December last year, showed the highest rate of missed appointments in the region for five years.
NHS Fife reported 46,788 missed appointments across its eight hospital in 2016/17, costing at least £5.6 million.
Dr Robin Smith, associate medical director for medicine at NHS Tayside, said patients failing to turn up, often because they have simply forgotten, is a “real problem” for the health board.
Bosses announced a new outpatient text reminder service on Monday to help combat the number of scrapped meetings, which have been attributed to delayed services and treatments on the service.
Angus councillor Bob Myles, who sits on the board as a non-executive member, said it is “very frustrating” for health professionals.
He said: “Of course, there can be genuine reasons why people may not be able to attend an appointment but it is very disappointing when people don’t turn up either because they don’t know or can’t be bothered.
“We have started to send out text reminders and I believe that is working very well but I would encourage all people who have an appointment and can’t make it to try to let the team know as soon as possible and reschedule.”
North East MSP Bill Bowman said the number of missed appointments was “hugely disrespectful” to hard working NHS staff.
He said: “Missed appointments are a huge drain on the resources of any health board. Far too many people adopt a careless attitude – but the result is hundreds of thousands of pounds each week being wasted.
“This is money that could be far better spent on frontline health care, particularly here in Tayside given the ongoing financial woes.”
“The health board may wish to consider that there might be consequences for those who don’t stick to appointments. It would serve as a warning to us all not to waste the time and money of our local NHS.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said: “We would urge patients to contact us as soon as possible if, for any reason, they are unable to attend hospital appointments or outpatient clinics.
“This allows us to reduce wasted appointments by giving someone else the original appointment, and rearrange a more suitable date and time for patients.
“It is important that people make sure that they keep their GP up-to-date with their correct phone number and address details to ensure they receive their appointment letters or reminder texts.”