More than a million Brits fail to turn up to their GP appointment every month, data suggests.
NHS figures show a record 7.8m patients in England alone “did not attend” a scheduled consultation between June and November last year.
Across the country, 42,822 appointments are missed a day - or 30 a minute, the statistics show.
With the average GP check-up costing £30 ($38.92), skipped consultations could set the NHS back more than £200m ($259.5m) a year.
“When patients miss appointments it can be a frustrating waste of resources for GPs and our teams,” Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said.
“But also for other patients who are struggling to secure an appointment for themselves.
“There may be many reasons why a patient might miss an appointment and in some cases it can be an indication something serious is going on for that individual.
“But we would urge patients to let us know if they can't attend as soon as possible, so we can offer that time to someone else who really needs it.”
Around 307m GP appointments are booked every year.
Of these, 5% (15.4m) are missed without notice, meaning they cannot be rescheduled for those in need.
Around half of last year’s no-shows were due to see a doctor, while the remainder were check-ups with a nurse or other healthcare professional.
With GP shortages an ongoing issue, missed appointments can be particularly frustrating for those in need.
The British Medical Association reported the number of full-time, fully-qualified GPs in England fell by 2% in the year up to June 2019, while full-time partners went down 5.3%.
The NHS is getting technical to help combat missed appointments and save money.
“Practices are using electronic methods, such as SMS reminders, to encourage patients to keep their appointments or cancel them in a timely manner,” Professor Stokes-Lampard said.
The health service announced in November it will trial a digital patient tool that allows users to book and change appointments online, receive text reminders and access maps that direct them to the clinic, MailOnline reported.
Known as DrDoctor, it is already been tested in 10 hospitals, including Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
It is expected to be rolled out to 11 more over the next few months and then nationally, if successful.