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GP practices deliver highest proportion of face-to-face appointments since start of pandemic

GP practices deliver highest proportion of face-to-face appointments since start of pandemic

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.

It comes as GPs are overwhelmed with summer workload and are dreading an ‘apocalyptic’ winter.

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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.’

The Labour Party called for an urgent debate in Parliament in June on the ‘crisis’ in primary care, amid falling GP numbers.

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.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

David Church 25 August, 2022 1:43 pm

This is dreadful news, and shows the awfully complacent attitude of both triage staff and patients with complete lack of allowance for infection control measures. The vast majority of contacts can, and should, be other than F2F : either telephone , email, or other platform.
Or are we just becoming less good at counting and accurately reporting the number of phone contacts with patients? – I know some clinical systems default to ‘in-surgery’ contact and we give up on making the effort to change them back to telephone!
One can only predict more doctors and surgery staff off sick, and risk of transmission to more patients, who will be harmed.

Patrufini Duffy 25 August, 2022 2:46 pm

There’s no crisis in General Practice. Get that straight. The crisis is in the public, media, their mindset and a nanny state of blame, irresponsibility and poor knowledge. The landscape is a drought and borderline embarrassment in 2022. And nation of neediness is the real epidemic.

Anyway, everyone knows 75% of those F-F were an utter waste of time. The chit chat was therapeutic banter though. Some GPs still love a PR and delay or block the proctology referral and love to swab this and that when actually you could have sent it to the right people quicker. Heroes. Keep the revolving doors revolving. Keep blocking the referral, saving hospitals and delaying diagnoses, and keep reassuring it will all be ok. Counselling for the lonely and bored. Let’s not start on the social services role. No one else is open anyway, not even the local dentist, chippie, faith building or MP for a chat about your health anxiety and media fear charard. I sincerely feel sorry for the planet and all those gloves and masks binned. Human wastefulness for self preservation. Ego detached from the body. Mind emptied from matter. But, at least one has diagnosed more ganglion, written “chest clear” 2 weeks after covid, questioned the optic disk with the optician fiddling their thumbs, hypothesised about the cause of the suddenly disappeared armpit “lump” and empathised with the tired patient who still manages a 5K run and trip to Malaga and Glastonbury. And that classic chestnut group of palpitations and chest pain who didn’t know we knew they take healthy doses of cocaine, MDMA and LSD and bottomless booze from last week’s A+E discharge letter. Heart sounds normal, for the fifth time. Can’t be you, no, you couldn’t be the problem. Let’s medicalise it for fun. Anyway, the more codes, the happier the future insurance company. Hypochondriasis, ADHD and generalised anxiety will fetch a bob or two. F-F is and was misused, like the Victorian aged home visit and comedy walk-in centre days. Just because you did one, didn’t mean it was actually necessary, probably just happened to appease the scrap of paper complaint and grey burecracy associated with media bashing. Stop being a hospital outpatient department and surrogate A+E and social therapist for your own sanity. Government uses you as the societal mop whilst they siphon off the system under your feet. You keep the people in check. Good doers. Face to face. You’re better than that. The numbers are not in your favour, and the gutter is thick and mucky. Amnesia with this lot is well set.

Rogue 1 25 August, 2022 3:31 pm

Like it PD, you should write a column!

Kevlar Cardie 26 August, 2022 12:05 pm

What they said ^