The NHS's chief nurse has hit out at patients who miss appointments, which is reported to be costing the service around £1bn a year.

In the year 2015/16, around 7.5 million patient appointments were missed according to NHS Digital, but this figure increased to 8 million in the year 2016/17.

Each missed appointment is thought to cost the NHS an estimated £120, meaning that the overall cost is almost £1bn.

Chief nurse, Professor Jane Cummings, said: "With the NHS coming under pressure as never before, we are asking patients and the public to use the health service responsibly to help ensure that care is readily available for everyone who needs it.

"There are now more doctors, nurses and other clinicians available at the end of a phone to give advice and guidance to users of the 111 service."

Charges for patients who miss their appointments has been discussed in the past, but plans by the government were ultimately shelved.

In 2015, the health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that charges were a possibility but this was later ruled out by David Cameron.

A survey in November 2017 by the medical magazine Pulse, found that the majority of GPs backed the idea of a charge for patients who missed their appointments.

Out of 821 GPs surveyed, 51% backed calls for a form of charge to be implemented.

Cummings urged patients who thought that they were unable to attend an appointment to call up and cancel, stating that the money lost each year could fund 1 million cataract operations or 250,000 hip operations.

The NHS, celebrating its 70th birthday, has come under extreme pressure with an ageing population combined with the fact that more people are using the service than ever before.

The head of NHS England, Simon Stevens has called for money to be pumped into the service, suggesting that a budget of £110bn per year was not enough.