GPs saw more patients in March than in any other month since records began, data has revealed, with the BMA saying this validates GP warnings that they are busier than ever.
The monthly NHS Digital dataset, published today, showed GPs delivered 14.7 million appointments in March 2021, although it stressed this include Covid-19 vaccinations.
BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the figure ‘backs up’ claims from GPs that they are ‘busier now than they have ever been’.
The number of contacts compares to 12.8 million in March last year, when NHS England first recommended the ‘total triage’ approach in response to the pandemic.
However it is also significantly higher than for March 2019, when GPs saw 13.6 million patients.
The data also revealed that GP practices saw practices in England delivered 4.8 million more appointments in March than they did in February this year.
It further revealed that in March:
- There were 28.4 million recorded appointments across general practice – the highest since October 2019
- 56% of appointments took place face-to-face (15.8 million)
- 40% of appointments took place over the phone (11.3 million)
- GPs delivered 52% of appointments in general practice (14.7 million)
- 44% of appointments happened on the same day
- There were 1.1 million did not attends (DNAs) – 4% of appointments
Dr Vautrey said: ‘Today’s figures underline the immense efforts that practices are going to providing care to their communities and the intense workload pressures that staff are under as we continue to respond to the pandemic alongside patients’ wider health needs…
‘GPs and their teams are consistently telling us they’re busier now than they have ever been, and this data – which does not include a large proportion of the vaccine programme undertaken by practices, nor a vast amount of other daily tasks – backs this up.’
The news comes as Pulse’s recent workload survey revealed that GPs are working 11-hour days and as NHS England’s primary care director Dr Nikki Kanani acknowledged earlier in the month that general practice is ‘feeling really difficult at the moment’.