The Strangford MLA said: “I would strongly encourage people to attend their medical appointments. John Dowdall’s report indicates that one in ten outpatients cancel, have their appointment cancelled or do not turn up, and this is costing taxpayers 11.6 million pounds annually.
“This 11.6 million pounds wasted locally every year could be used to provide over 100 extra doctors for people in Northern Ireland.
“I am also shocked that out of the whole of the UK, Northern Ireland has the highest rate of failure to attend appointments. This problem is proving to be a major financial drain on our health service. The medical budget is tight enough as it is, and missed appointments means that vital time and money is wasted.
“The partial booking system, which involves giving people more choice regarding appointments, is a more flexible and more user-friendly scheme. This system will hopefully help alleviate the problem of missed appointments, therefore eliminating this major drain on resources.”