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Practice-level GP appointment data publication to go ahead on 24 November despite reshuffle

Practice-level GP appointment data publication to go ahead on 24 November despite reshuffle

The former health secretary’s plans to publish practice-level appointment data from this month are to go ahead under her successor, Pulse has learned.

An NHS England GP bulletin revealed that this will take place on 24 November.

In September, former health secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey revealed her ‘plan for patients’, which included two-week GP appointment targets and the new publication of practice-level appointment data in a bid to improve access to GP practices.

But a political reshuffle following the resignation of Prime Minister Liz Truss and her replacement with Rishi Sunak saw Steve Barclay reappointed as health secretary last week.

It remained unclear whether Dr Coffey’s plans would be shelved now that a new health secretary is in post, but a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) told Pulse that the measures will go ahead as planned.

They said that the DHSC will publish easy-to-use appointment data for each practice in England from this month. The data will include how many appointments each GP practice is offering and appointment waiting times.

An NHS England email bulletin sent to practices yesterday revealed that ‘on 24 November, NHS Digital intends to publish experimental practice level data as laid out’ in the ‘plan for patients’.

It added: ‘This data will be added to the monthly appointments in general practice publication using the data collected regularly from GP system suppliers. If practices want to review their data ahead of the release, they can access it via their practice-level dashboard.’

Dr Coffey had previously indicated that the only repercussion for practices that do not meet the expectations would be the potential of patients switching GP.

The DHSC spokesperson also indicated that the ‘expectation’ set by Dr Coffey that GP practices offer non-urgent appointments to patients within two weeks, as well as same-day urgent appointments, also remains in place.

NHS England has said that while it is ‘reasonable’ for patients to expect to see a GP within two weeks, delivering this is currently impossible.

The DHSC spokesperson said: ‘We are incredibly grateful to GPs and their staff, whose hard work ensured that over 29 million appointments were carried out in September – with over two-thirds of those face to face, up from August and the same month last year.

‘We have set an expectation that everyone who needs an appointment within two weeks can get one, with urgent cases seen the same day. To support this, there are record numbers of GPs in training and we are investing at least £1.5 billion to create 50 million more appointments a year by 2024.’

They stressed that guidance is clear that GP practices must provide face-to-face appointments alongside remote consultations.

And they added that the Government has taken actions to improve GP access including recruiting more support staff, changing pension rules to retain more senior staff, empowering pharmacists to play a bigger role in treating patients and rolling out telephone systems that make it easier to get through to surgeries.

No changes in policy have been announced, so all previous policies will continue unless stated otherwise, they told Pulse. 

Meanwhile, it was revealed last week that new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has shelved his own plans to introduce a £10 fine for patients who miss GP or hospital appointments.

The latest GP access row

In September, the BMA and RCGP both reacted with dismay to the announcement of new targets for general practice, saying that practices had been ‘set up to fail’.

But former health secretary Dr Coffey later said that she wanted to go further than her two-week wait target for GP appointments.

And the shadow health secretary also said that patients ‘deserve better than a two-week wait’ for GP appointments and that a Labour Government would have ‘higher standards’.

Meanwhile, NHS England had said in August that it was looking to achieve ‘quick wins’ to improve access to GP practices before the end of the financial year.

More recently, a Twitter campaign revealed that some GPs are clocking more than 200 patient contacts in a day despite the recommended safe working limit of 25.

And the BMA has issued updated safe working guidance suggesting that GP practices move to a ‘waiting list system’ based on clinical need to try and mitigate the current pressures

NHS England’s board has itself issued a stark warning that demand for GP appointments has ‘never been greater’ and is ‘outstripping supply’.  



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

Iain Chalmers 4 November, 2022 10:05 am

Just isn’t as simple as that, one appointment today was:

3 return calls over 1/2 an hour unanswered & message left. Contact surgery again saying Dr needed to use different number from S1 records, called & finally needed a F2F with no Tx outcome

Darren Tymens 4 November, 2022 10:15 am

Presumably they will also be publishing real-time data for
– ambulance response times
– A and E waiting times
– outpatient waiting times for every speciality
– avoidable deaths
… so that the public can assess the real state of the NHS?
No? Why not?

ABID IQBAL 4 November, 2022 11:24 am

so Practice A loses patients to Practice B, because they have more appts and are quicker .
then Practice B becomes overwhelmed , and patients return to Practice A
great stuff… a whole load of work and admin for everyone!

time for some tea (no Coffey!)

Patrufini Duffy 4 November, 2022 1:33 pm

They are rubbing the wrong tree. And are going to pay for it unfortunately. This is a screw placed too deep and to scapegoat you. I always told you this – they want your appointment book and they want your receptionist. Wake up – quickly. Especially those in a PCN. You’ve been a sheep for too long – think the herd is safe? Think again – you just got silenced and infiltrated. Anyway, who cares – imagine if you all did 30 minute appointments as per safe practice. The appointments drop, waiting exponentially increases and the system grinds to a Hollywood end halt. Stop painting a fairytale that you can do everything and be everything. Stop being the good doer – scared of them managers – it is a fickle endless beer battering you have on your plate. Why don’t you just show them the sh*t storm. *No data on shaming the DNAs and frequent attenders that cripple the NHS. That is a-okay. You keep slogging – but don’t refer. One’s aim now is to refer at the first appointment – that will crush hospitals but put the patient first always. Win lose situation. How many appointments do dentists offer? Same day? Within 2 weeks?

Sam Macphie 4 November, 2022 2:02 pm

Exactly right Dr Darren Tymens. Secondary care waits are in many cases abysmal and all the other services too.
NHS England urgently need to prioritise the publication of secondary care (mainly hospitals) appointment data.
The terrible state of Secondary Care and hospitals’ sluggish (and dangerous) responses and wait-times adversely influences the work of GPs in Primary Care. Meanwhile the lack of beds (it’s not all about so-called bed-blockers), lack of doctors and nurses,
midwifery and many other departments even, and the expansion of non-docs and clinicians who have limited capabilities and responsibilities, and micromanagement and deteriorating value of NHS financial investment in services and staff at sharp end.
By the way, what has happened regarding Dr Jameel? The Pulse item sounded intriguing. Perhaps she could help with the planned negotiations for GPs.

Patrufini Duffy 4 November, 2022 3:26 pm

You can see all the public for free today or within 2 weeks (whatever wets these managers’ undergarments) – and refer them – with no movement for 4 months.
And one smell of them DNA-ing their outpatient TELEPHONE appointment and they’re discharged.
Repeat the process – wait another 4 months.
Nice. Sweet spot.
Early diagnostics – “world leading”. Accountability – blame GPs.