The Mail Online has named and shamed GP practices doing ‘fewest face-to-face appointments’, labelling them as the worst in the country.
The newspaper published a piece including tables of ‘the 50 GP practices with the lowest proportion of face-to-face appointments according to official NHS data’, and reporting patients saying that ‘certain practices don’t want to see patients.’
The article said: ‘Want to know how bad your local GP surgery is faring amid England’s never-ending appointment crisis?
‘MailOnline has crunched all the NHS data into one fascinating interactive tool to let you see everything you need to know at once.’
The tool, which uses NHS data from November, enables readers to search any practice in the country and find out what percentage of appointments are held face-to-face, how many patients are seen the same day they called and how satisfied they are with their GP.
The piece also said that during November, ‘national statistics showed the number of in-face consultations dipped back to 69%’ and pointed at Bath Road Surgery in Hounslow as the surgery which had ‘the lowest percentage of appointments held face-to-face in November at just 15.3 per cent.’
It adds: ‘Many family doctors are choosing to retire in their 50s, move abroad or leave to work in the private sector because of complaints about soaring demand, paperwork and aggressive media coverage.
‘At the same time, the population has also grown, exacerbating the patient list size ratio.
‘MailOnline’s data is compiled from several different NHS sources. Not all GP practices submitted data to all of these different sources, meaning some aspects of their service are unknown.’
Pulse placed every practice in England in a decile for each of the following (based on figures for October 2022): percentage of appointments that were face to face; average waiting times in days; and percentage of consultations that were carried out by GPs.
Our investigation showed what many GPs will already know: that to offer face-to-face consultations, practices generally can only provide lengthier waiting times and fewer appointments conducted by GPs.
The investigation concluded that practices ‘simply can’t offer a service involving a high number of face-to-face appointments, with short waiting times and with GPs – all of which a demanding media and Government insists on.’
It also added that when GPs see negative headlines, or health secretaries – and shadow health secretaries – saying ‘it is up to GPs to step up their game,’ this is ‘particularly galling’ and more likely to encourage them to leave the profession.
It is not the first time the Mail reports figures of face-to-face appointments as definitive parameters of ‘how bad a GP surgery is.’
At the end of last year, the BMA wrote to the newspaper to express its ‘anger at attacks and smears’ against GPs, following the latest GP-bashing article published by the newspaper.
A Mail Online article by columnist Sarah Vine had asked why GPs are ‘still using Covid as an excuse not to see patients’, saying that GPs were ‘guilt-tripping’ patients for ‘taking up their time’.
GPs also questioned the Telegraph’s choice to ‘name and shame’ a Surrey GP who moved to Cornwall and continued seeing the practice’s patients remotely while her colleagues sought a replacement GP.
Data out today showed that in December there were 26.8 million GP appointments – not including Covid vaccinations offered by practices in England – compared with 25.2 million for the same month in 2021.
More patients were seen face to face – at 68.3% compared with 61% in December 2021 – and 48.1% of appointments were on the same day also up from 45.8% the previous year.