This site is intended for health professionals only

GPs provided two million more appointments last month than in March last year

GPs provided two million more appointments last month than in March last year

GP practices provided over 31.5 million patient appointments in March, which is almost two million more than in the same month last year.

NHS Digital’s latest data also showed that 70% of GP appointments in England were delivered face-to-face, almost 10% more than in March 2019. 

The workforce figures for last month revealed that while the number of appointments increased by 6.5% the number of fully-qualified FTE GPs has decreased by 463 over the same period. 

There are 1,180 fewer GPs than in March 2019, which represents a reduction of over 4%, despite an increase in demand and appointment numbers. 

RCGP chair Professor Kamila Hawthorne said these figures show that the winter’s ‘intense workload and workforce pressures are continuing well into the spring’. 

Director of primary care at the NHS Confederation Ruth Rankine said that the pressure on the workforce ‘is not sustainable’ and called for NHS England’s primary care recovery plan ‘as a matter of urgency’. 

In February, the national commissioner confirmed it is working on a primary care recovery plan similar to that already published for elective and urgent care.

But this, along with the long-awaited workforce plan, are still yet to be published despite reports last month that they were expected in the coming weeks. 

The appointment data showed that GPs and their teams delivered around 1.4 million appointments each working day last month, and 43% of them took place on the same day.

Professor Hawthorne said: ‘Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for problems which are decades in the making – we simply do not have enough GPs or other members of the practice team to meet escalating patient need for our care and services.’

She said ‘it is not too late to turn this dire situation around’ and also highlighted the upcoming recovery and workforce plans as ‘key opportunities’ to do this. 

Recent ONS data showed that 18.3 million people tried to get a GP appointment in mid- to late February, which is half a million more than earlier in the winter. 

Earlier this week, the Liberal Democrat Party claimed patients in England are being ‘rushed’ through their GP appointments, pointing to NHS data showing 51 million GP appointments lasted less than five minutes from March 2022 to February this year.



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

Dr N 28 April, 2023 3:31 pm

‘I cant make an appointment’ – well 31.5 million did – PS that’s nearly half the population in just one month.

Dave Haddock 29 April, 2023 10:15 pm

Actually Kamilla there are several quick fixes that would dramatically improve GP.
Dump Appraisal and Revalidation, dump all the tick-box schemes, charge everyone for appointments and let Practices keep the cash.

Dave Haddock 29 April, 2023 10:19 pm

And end routine CQC inspections of Practices – inspection only where there is significant evidence for significant concern.

David Taylor 1 May, 2023 7:52 am

When will someone actually have the gumption to say ‘we need to reduce demand’. There is absolutely no ‘need’ for 31.5 million primary care appointments in 1 month. Demand and need have become far too blurred and unless we put things in place to reduce demand we are forever stuffed. Personally I think it inevitable that we charge for appointments in the near future to reduce some of the uncontrollable demand. That and education in life skills might work, though it’s always difficult to put the genie back in the bottle