GP practices in England delivered the highest proportion of face-to-face appointments last month since March 2020, the latest figures reveal.
NHS Digital’s latest GP appointments data, published today, showed that 65% of appointments in GP practices were delivered face to face in July.
This is the highest figure since March 2020, when 66% of appointments were delivered face to face.
The figure dropped to 47% in April 2020, while in February 2020 – before the start of the Covid pandemic – it had stood at 80%.
The new data for England also revealed that an estimated 26 million appointments were delivered by practices last month – not including the 23,800 Covid vaccinations completed by practices and PCNs.
Appointment numbers remained stable – compared with 25.9 million the previous month – despite a drastic drop in Covid vaccinations from 278,000.
GPs themselves delivered 12.7 million appointments – representing 49% of the total number carried out practices in July.
The NHS Digital dataset revealed in April that the previous month saw GPs in England deliver the highest number of patient consultations since records began.
Meanwhile, separate GP workforce data also published by NHS Digital today showed that the number of fully-qualified full-time equivalent (FTE) GPs continues to fall.
There were 27,507 fully-qualified FTE GPs in July, down from 27,558 the previous month and 27,750 in July last year.
RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said the data showed GPs are doing a ‘remarkable’ but ultimately ‘unsustainable’ job.
He said: ‘The data speaks for itself, GPs and our teams continue to do a remarkable job, delivering 26 million consultations to patients this July, significantly more than in July 2019 before the pandemic, with 44.3% delivered on the day they were booked.
‘This is testament to the hard work and dedication of GP teams, working in the face of intense workload and workforce challenges, to deliver timely, appropriate care for their patients.’
He added: ‘The figures speak to the resilience of most general practice teams who despite delivering care for an increasing number of patients, with health needs that are becoming more complex, alongside falling numbers of fully-qualified, full-time GPs, are finding ways to continue operating and do their best for patients.
‘But this is unsustainable. General practice is struggling and needs support.’
Meanwhile, NHS Digital data revealed last week that GP networks in England have made just under 1,000 hires via the additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS) over the last three months.
This followed NHS England’s announcement this month of the ‘rapid recruitment’ of up to 2,000 additional social prescribing link workers, health coaches and care coordinators among measures to alleviate GP pressures this winter.