Patients are being urged to cancel unwanted doctors’ appointments to ease the strain on under-pressure GP surgeries – as it emerged that one Cumbrian practice has 30 no-shows each week.

In total, there were 116 missed appointments at Aspatria Medical Group last month and managers at the surgery say they are frustrated with the high number of people who don’t turn up.

With GPs practices across Cumbria under significant pressure due to staff shortages and high caseloads, many patients regularly complain of struggling to get appointments quickly.

So the surgery is hoping that more slots can be freed up by those who no longer need them cancelling.

But despite repeated warnings on posters in the surgery and on social media, there’s still a huge amount of appointments being missed each month at the West Street Health Centre.

Diane Blacklock, the practice’s human resources, IT and premises manager, said: “It has a huge impact because there’s a national shortage of GPs. At least when people cancel we can offer them to somebody else.

“If people don’t cancel and we have no appointments that’s when people started commenting, saying you can’t get appointments.

“But it is people not cancelling that cause extra pressure at a time when there’s already massive pressure.

“It’s not just our surgery where this is happening but we are trying to make our patients aware.”

The problem is not something that has just started as the figure of between 20 and 30 no-shows a week is something that is deemed as average for the surgery.

More frustrating for the surgery is that it does offer an online service where people can book and cancel appointments at any time of day from anywhere.

Patients also get a text message reminder for appointments and are able to cancel their slot with a reply.

Urgent same-day appointments are still available for those most in need.

But more regular appointments would be available quicker if there wasn’t the amount of wasted bookings.