North Wales patients miss nearly 60,000 appointments a year without cancelling them, at a cost of millions of pounds to the public purse, health chiefs say.

Figures from a freedom of information request show that between April 2016 and March 2017, 59,479 appointments were missed without patients calling to tell doctors at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB).

This represents 7.51 per cent of the total outpatient appointments offered by the  board during the period

According to the board’s website, each outpatient appointment costs the health board up to £150.

This means the figures for the last financial year represent a loss of £8,921,850.

A spokesman for the health board said: “There are circumstances where it is unavoidable for patients to miss appointments.

“However, missed appointments are a significant issue for the health board, wasting staff time and resources and preventing other patients from having appointments at an earlier date.

“That is why we urge all patients to let us know as soon as possible if they are unable to attend an appointment – we can then offer that patient an alternative date, and offer the original appointment to another patient.”

To tackle the problem the board launched a bilingual text reminder service which send patients a message seven days and 24 hours before their appointment.

The service can also be used to cancel appointments.

“Our text reminder service has reduced the number of missed appointments, but we continue to ask the public to notify us if they are unable to attend an appointment,” said the spokesman.

Patients are asked to call, as soon as possible the clinic appointment clerk at the hospital on the telephone number provided in their appointment letter or contact the board by email as follows: Anglesey and Gwynedd –; Conwy and Denbighshire –; Wrexham and Flintshire –