LAST minute appointment cancellations are denying 600 people access to speedy hospital treatment every month, and costing NHS Forth Valley hundreds of thousands of pounds.

So far this year, figures show 5,500 patients have cancelled appointments on the day they are due to attend, equating to a bill of £660,000.

The stats were described as "concerning" by Andrew Murray, NHS Forth Valley's medical director, who has urged people to avoid late cancellations whenever possible.

He said: “Cancelling or moving an appointment on the day is pretty much the same as not turning up as it doesn’t allow us to fill the slot.

"I appreciate that sometimes there are genuine reasons for not keeping an appointment but, where possible, we would ask people to let us know beforehand."

To mitigate the effect of any last minute cancellations, NHS Forth Valley has put in place a number of procedures to make it easier for patients to cancel or reschedule.

These include an appointment telephone reminder system, and a text reminder service which is due to start shortly.

People can also ring the number on their appointment letter or cancel their appointment online by completing a short form on the contact section of NHS Forth Valley’s website.

Details on how to cancel an appointment are available at