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Practice-level appointment data to be published from November

Practice-level appointment data to be published from November

Data on how many appointments each GP practice is offering, alongside appointment waiting times, will be published starting from November this year, the Government has announced.

The news forms part of new health secretary Therese Coffey’s plan for patient access, published today.

According to the document, this will ‘equip’ patients to ‘make informed choices with an expectation of the service that will be provided to them’.

The plan also set out plans to reform NHS pensions and expand the type of roles that can be hired under the ARRS scheme. And it reiterated that patients will be given an expectation that they should get a non-urgent GP appointment within two weeks, and same-day urgent appointments.

The plan said: ‘Patients will have more information available to choose the right practice for them. From November 2022, we will publish easy-to-use data showing exactly how many appointments each practice in England is delivering and how long people wait between booking an appointment and receiving one.’

It added that while this would make ‘performance more transparent’, the Government ‘will not be prescriptive with high performing practitioners’.

However, ICBs will be required ‘to hold practices to account, providing support to those practices with the most acute access challenges to improve performance’.

As for how new waiting time targets would be policed, the plan merely said the Government will ‘expect’ ICBs ‘to intervene where services need to be improved’.

In interview on LBC radio earlier today, Dr Coffey clarified that appointment waiting times will continue to be ‘driven by clinical need’. She also said appointments could be remote and said the only repercussion for practices that do not meet the expectations would be the potential of patients switching GP.

She said: ‘This is about clear expectations. [If] patients are seeking care, they may be able to switch to a different doctor. And then of course, that will reduce the funding that goes into that doctor.’

Waiting lists will also be published for secondary care specialties.

‘Patients will be able to make informed choices as a result of our work to provide as much information as possible about their length of wait for treatment, making waiting lists by speciality and by provider, more accessible,’ the plan said.

By publishing ‘easy-to-use data and performance indicators’ for both GPs and elective care, the Government ‘will inform and empower patients to play a full part in decision-making about their health and treatment’, it said.

Adding: ‘Transparent data not only empowers individuals, but also helps health and care staff learn from the high performers around them about how to improve the care they deliver to patients. We will also inform patients on alternative pathways for their own care and reducing the need to use the NHS at all.’

In a ministerial foreword to the plan Dr Coffey said that while ‘most of the time’ NHS patients ‘have a great experience’, the Government ‘will not paper over the problems that we face’.

‘This plan is a first step on an important journey. It clearly shows our commitment to putting patients first; using insights from data to deliver better services across the country. While we are not being prescriptive, we will share best practice in order to improve outcomes for patients,’ she added.

The Government’s plan for boosting general practice access

The Government said it will:

  • set the expectation that everyone who needs an appointment with their practice within 2 weeks can get one
  • prioritise so patients with urgent needs are seen on the same day, including opening up time for more than a million extra appointments over winter
  • make it easier to contact your practice, by making an additional 31,000 phone lines available for GP practices
  • inform patients by publishing data on how many appointments each GP practice delivers, and the length of waits for appointments, to enable patient choice
  • require the local NHS (integrated care boards) to hold practices to account, providing support to those practices with the most acute access challenges to improve performance

Source: Department of Health and Social Care

The Government also set out plans to:

  • ‘make more time available for appointments by introducing digital tools and improving IT systems to ease administrative burdens’, including ‘automating appointment reminder messages, consultation booking and triage responses’
  • ‘incentivise our most experienced GPs to stay in practice by correcting pension rules regarding inflation’

Ahead of the publication of the full plan, the BMA and RCGP both reacted with dismay to the announcement of new targets for general practice.

In a statement to Parliament this afternoon, Dr Coffey said: ‘Clearly, clinicians are best placed to prioritise according to clinical need of their patients. In July, 44% of appointments were same-day appointments, but too few practices were consistently offering appointments within a fortnight.’

However, former health secretary and current health select committee chair Jeremy Hunt said: ‘Can I ask her to rethink this new two-week access target for general practice?

‘If targets were the answer, we would have the best access in the world in the NHS because we have more targets than any other healthcare system in the world. GPs alone have 72 targets, adding a 73rd won’t help them or their patients because it’s not targets the NHS needs. It’s more doctors.’

And Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said: ‘She says that patients will be able to get a GP appointment within two weeks. Her party scrapped the guarantee of an appointment within two days that Labour introduced when we were in government. 

‘And she made it clear this morning: this isn’t a guarantee at all, merely an expectation. 

‘What is the consequence if GPs don’t meet her expectation? Well, as we heard on the radio this morning, her message to patients is get on your bike and find a new GP.’

Other announcements within the plan

The Government also set out plans to:

  • launch a £500 million Adult Social Care Discharge Fund, designed to free up hospital beds
  • expand mental health support for children at school
  • work with NHS111 and ambulance services so that patients are directed to the full range of services, for example having access to dedicated 24/7 helplines for patients experiencing a mental health crisis
  • relieve pressure on emergency services by redirecting patients to the most appropriate setting for them, such as urgent care centres, walk-in centres or minor injuries units
  • expand falls prevention and falls response services, to avoid unnecessary ambulance call-outs and emergency admissions



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

Patrufini Duffy 22 September, 2022 2:25 pm

And still, no data on time wasters, DNAs and repeat offenders. No codes on them, or accountability. Those who actually block appointments from others and clog up A+E. This is now a system of public versus public, not public versus doctor. They’re just not brave enough in nanny land to say anything or call it out. Just stuff you in between. You’ve got 20 year old somethings robbing the elderly of their outpatient care, and a generational gap and mental hurricane of hypochondriacs between actual disease.

Ones new PDP now includes an aim to increase referral rates same day, after little or zero history and maximal buggery. Watch your 2 week wait cancer pathways and OPD really tank. But don’t give the antibiotics, because CQC are watching you, and no painkillers because that too is being tracked. Sick system.

Kevlar Cardie 22 September, 2022 2:36 pm


Truth Finder 22 September, 2022 2:38 pm

More posturing and negative pressure will just lead to more staff shortages. Clueless minister.

Cameron Wilson 22 September, 2022 5:12 pm

If the great and good of the RCGP,BMA don’t counter with the number of patient contacts that is reasonable and safe,and the GMC, CQC actually do their job in promoting patient safety/quality, questions have to be asked. It’s not our role to bail out politicians etc with our health!! If teachers are underfunded the kids suffer but the teachers don’t get done for manslaughter! If the Police don’t investigate burglaries because of lack of resources no one gives a monkeys! We are well and truelly the cesspit of social/health needs or wants and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded. Perversely I suspect even if we could deliver this nonsense, we would get slated for being lazy/inefficient as at present! As I said, let’s hear from the Great and Good!!

Neil Paul 22 September, 2022 5:54 pm

Get your GPAD matching correct! I’m CD of a PCN and we are doing a project looking at my practices data – many have incorrectly matched their data in GPAD making them look like they arent doing much…. Get it right or be on the front page of the DM as not seeing anyone…

Ayesha Siddiqui 22 September, 2022 7:48 pm

We deal with so much extra work that is not logged as ‘appointments’. If we start logging every query and every action as an appointment type, it will show we offer amazing access.
In fact, we should also have ‘appointments’ logged for every hospital appointment r result we chase on behalf of a patient. I’m pretty sure it will ‘show’ we have doubled our ‘capacity’ overnight.

Dr N 22 September, 2022 8:23 pm

Back to the days of five minute appointments then. I remember it well, dreadful medicine

Turn out The Lights 22 September, 2022 9:43 pm

NHSE data gathering my experience sh@ t in sh@t. Out no reason to expect any difference from the f@@kwits in charge.Am I bothered ,No.but I expect a lot of our staff leaving after dealing with the mob whipped up by this nonsense.I also see a lot of us leaving.In a country where locums now get better t&cs than partners.It seem like a lot of partners will be leaving as thing ramp out liz a white middle aged Tory male might be stabbing you in the back sooner than you think.

Anony Mouse 22 September, 2022 11:04 pm

So the “Reward” for practices doing well is more patients that they will struggle to accommodate and the”Punishment” for poorly performing practices will be to lose patients that they couldn’t cope with anyway……genius !

Samir Shah 23 September, 2022 10:17 am

Theresa’s just regurgitated how general practice operates and that ICBs have responsibility for primary care. She’s a revolutionary 😂

Darren Tymens 23 September, 2022 11:23 am

When GPAD was agreed with NHSE, I thought the GPC Exec said they had received a super-special pinky promise that it would absolutely *never* be used for performance management?
I think it is time we recorded every single bit of work – every triage email, every repeat prescription – appropriately, perhaps in preparation for charging properly for them.

Patrufini Duffy 23 September, 2022 2:41 pm

Imagine if you logged every repeat prescription and medicine and blood review as an appointment. Which it is really, as a patient interaction and the mere fact of entering someone’s notes.
The system would crash tomorrow.
In fact, you’re selling yourself short. That would be billed in the private sector for £80.

David Jarvis 29 September, 2022 12:36 pm

I look at this and really think so what? Slag me off in the Daily Mail. If you however try reducing my income I’m gone and who are you going to replace me with. We must remember it is their responsibility to provide a service that they pay us for. So where does the responsibility lay if they decide the service is inadequate. You get what you pay for. They genuinely need us massively more than we need them. Remember that when they are having a go. Smiling sweetly while stick up 2 fingers and carrying on regardless is really the best way to deal with bullies. Ignore this. If they try having a go then the reply is “yeah whatever”. Get your personal mindset right and realise their power is limited.