THOUSANDS of appointments were missed at a Winchester hospital over the last year, costing the NHS more than £1m.

The 18,060 no-shows since August 2011 have also delayed treatment for other patients at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital.

Hospital chief Mary Edwards said: “It is disappointing when people don’t attend their appointments because the time could be offered to another patient who needs it.”

Figures show the RHCH made 258,000 appointments since August 2011 and 18,060 of those have been missed.

Each missed appointment is estimated to cost the hospital trust up to £120, including staffing costs. Council chiefs are looking at different ways to tackle the number of missed appointments.

Newham University Hospital in London has launched a pilot scheme in which diabetes patients who do not need a physical examination are seen via Skype.

Several other hospitals, including King’s College, London, already use a text message system to remind patients of their appointments.