A HOSPITAL trust lost more than £2 million in the first six months of this year due to thousands of patients missing appointments, figures have revealed.

New figures show that between January and June this year, 16,881 people either turned up to late or not at all to appointments at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals trust sites.

With the NHS struggling for funds amid budget cuts and increased demand, the British Medical Association said it was crucial appointments are not wasted while the health service is "under incredible stress".

The average outpatient appointment costs the NHS £120, according to the latest resources cost data.

The hospital trust missed out on an astonishing £2.03 million due to the missed appointments - equalling eight per cent of all appointments missed.

The figures show 5,751 people failed to make their first appointment, nine per cent of first attendances, while 11,130, or eight per cent, did not appear for a subsequent meeting.

In total across Essex almost 75,000 appointments were missed costing the NHS an estimated £9million.

Across health providers in England almost 2.9 million appointments were missed between January and June, which cost the NHS around £350 million.

Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: “This trust introduced a text message reminder service for outpatients appointments in September 2017, which has significantly reduced the number of ‘did not attends’.

“From April 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017, the average rate of missed appointments across all specialties in the trust, with no notice given by the patient, was just over 12 per cent.

“From November 2017 to June 2018, the same average rate has been between eight to nine per cent for seven months. The trust works with our GPs and clinical commissioning group colleagues to emphasise the importance of patients attending.