The health trust which runs Hinchingbrooke Hospital has lost almost £2 million this year because thousands of patients have not turned up to appointments, figures show.

Data from NHS England shows that the trust, which also operates Peterborough City Hospital and Stamford & Rutland Hospital, had 16,618 people either not show up for an outpatient appointment, or arrived too late to be seen, between January and June of this year.

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.

That means that the 16,618 missed sessions cost North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust more than £1.9 million.

At the trust, out of the 247,331 outpatient appointments between January and June, six per cent of patients did not show up.

The figures show 5,901 people failed to make their first appointment, seven per cent of first attendances, while 10,717, or six per cent, did not appear for a subsequent meeting.

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

Neil Doverty, chief operating officer at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Missed appointments significantly impact our hospitals, both financially and operationally, as well as other patients waiting for appointments.

"We appreciate that there are often genuine reasons why patients are unable to attend but our booking team will endeavour to accommodate this. Our reception teams have been working hard to ensure that we have accurate contact details for all of our patients.

"Currently we provide a text messaging service to remind patients of their upcoming appointment and we are reviewing this so that they will soon have the option to cancel their appointment in this way in the future.

"However, it is vital that if patients are unable to attend, they tell us as soon as possible so we can offer the appointment slot to someone else."

Details of how to cancel or change your appointment can be found on your letter, or you can visit our website."