Lambeth is traditionally famous for its walk and its palace but here's a new claim to fame for the borough - its residents are rubbish at keeping medical appointments. Last week, it was revealed that patients in Lambeth missed 69,886 primary care appointments last year. In fact, what is it about South London? Southwark came a close second with 65,630 no shows, followed by Lewisham with 63,709.
A missed appointment is estimated to cost the NHS around £105 a pop so this spectacular display of forgetfulness, rudeness and/or miraculous last minute recovery not only annoys health service staff and exacerbates waiting lists but wastes money. It also encourages services to overbook, safe in the knowledge that not everyone will turn up, but of course it's always the day you've booked an hour off work to get down the clinic that everyone does and it's half a day staring at Chlamydia posters on the waiting room wall.
Whilst SMS reminders are being introduced to prod patients and Choose and Book encourages us to manage our appointments online, it seems that - disappointingly - whilst the NHS is free at the point of use, it's open to such rampant abuse with people not valuing what they don't pay for.