This site is intended for health professionals only

NHS England hails increase in daily GP appointments to 1.4 million

NHS England hails increase in daily GP appointments to 1.4 million

NHS England has hailed ‘hard-working GPs’ – and its primary care recovery plan – for boosting the availability of GP appointments to 1.4 million per working day.

But the RCGP said what the data showed was general practice ‘being pushed to breaking point’.

NHS Digital data published last week showed there were 30.5 million appointments – excluding Covid vaccinations – delivered by GPs and their teams in February 2024, compared with 24.7 million in February 2020, an increase of 5.8 million (23.4%). 

GP teams delivered 364.8 million appointments excluding Covid vaccinations over the last twelve months, 57 million more annually than before the pandemic, an increase that NHS England credited to its primary care recovery plan and ‘hard working GPs and their teams’. 

This means that on average, the NHS is now offering more than 1.4 million GP appointments every working day, the commissioner said.

It also said that almost every GP practice in England has now upgraded their phone systems as per a key aspect of the recovery plan, which was published in May last year, and announced £240m of funding for practices to ‘embrace latest technology’, with a focus on replacing old analogue phone systems. 

According to NHSE, more than 5,800 practices use a digital system and more than nine in ten (92%) now have cloud-based systems.

‘The remaining practices are agreeing dates within the next month for upgrades to happen with tech suppliers and are expected to happen from next month,’ it added.

This is despite the BMA asking NHS England to immediately pause its cloud-based telephony project, following concerns around ‘skyrocketing’ costs for GP practices.

NHS England primary care director Dr Amanda Doyle said: ‘The NHS is meeting its targets, with hard-working GPs and their teams making tremendous progress across the country. 

‘The NHS has delivered on its promise to upgrade GP telephone systems to make it easier for patients to contact their surgery.

‘This is welcome news for patients and just one of a range of measures to make it quicker for people to get the help they need from their local GP team. 

‘Thanks to the hard work of staff more than 1.4 million appointments in general practice take place each working day which is a significant increase in the last four years and should really help patients trying to access their surgery.’

But RCGP vice chair for external affairs Dr Victoria Tzortziou-Brown said that the new GP appointment figures show that general practice ‘is being pushed to breaking point’.

She said: ‘GPs and their teams delivered 30.5 million appointments in February 2024 – 5.46 million more than in February 2019, but with 3% fewer fully qualified, full-time equivalent GPs.

‘Even while stretched so thin, GPs and our teams have been working hard to get patients the care they need, with almost 44% of appointments carried out on the same day they were booked.

‘But this workload isn’t sustainable, or even manageable. The average number of patients per fully qualified GP continues to rise and is now a shocking 2,298, meaning each GP is, on average, responsible for 158 more patients than they were five years ago.’

Primary care minister Andrea Leadsom said: ‘We are determined to make our healthcare system faster, simpler and fairer for all patients, and this data shows that through the incredible work of GPs and their teams, we are now delivering significantly more appointments per working day compared to the same time last year.

‘We are committed to ensuring that everyone who needs an appointment is able to get one, and our primary care recovery plan demonstrates how we will deliver for all patients who use our fantastic NHS.

‘Our goals are clear, and we have already delivered on a number of pledges – including exceeding our target of 50 million additional general practice appointments per year, several months ahead of schedule.’

As part of the new GP contract, practices will be required to provide specific data from the new telephone systems on call volumes to NHS England, but the commissioner claimed that this is not going to be associated with any targets.

Last year, Dr Doyle told Pulse that having a new telephone system ‘is not the answer on its own’, and that it must be combined with other digital tools to improve patient experience.

And Pulse revealed that almost half of GPs who have already implemented ‘modern’ access measures prescribed by the recovery plan say it has not helped improve access.

In November, the Government claimed to have met its pledge to create 50 million more GP appointments a year by 2024/25.



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

Paul Hartley 2 April, 2024 10:57 am

This appears disingenuous. Are they GP appointments, or GP ‘team’ appointments?

Douglas Callow 2 April, 2024 11:56 am


So the bird flew away 2 April, 2024 12:43 pm

Fake news

Andrew Jackson 2 April, 2024 1:15 pm

quality not quantity

Dave Haddock 2 April, 2024 4:51 pm

“Number of patients waiting four weeks to see GP soars all over England”. – Telegraph

“The doctor will see you… next month! One in 20 patients now have to wait at least four weeks for a GP appointment” – Daily Mail

” GP appointment scandal as sick families left waiting a month to see a doctor” – Mirror

Dave Haddock 2 April, 2024 5:08 pm

“GP teams delivered 364.8 million appointments excluding Covid vaccinations over the last twelve months, 57 million more annually than before the pandemic”
Record numbers of appointments,but access getting worse.
Time to admit that the NHS is a failed system.

Sandra Teare 2 April, 2024 11:15 pm

45.2% of all appointments in February 2024 were carried out by a GP and 20.4% were carried out by nurses.

Fewer than half of appointments are with an actual GP.

Yes Man 5 April, 2024 1:37 pm

The operation was successful but the patient has sadly died.