GP practices in England carried out 31.5 million recorded patient appointments in April, the latest figures from NHS Digital show.
The estimated appointment numbers include 7.5 million Covid vaccines delivered by practices or PCNs.
GPs saw 12.4 million patients, the figures show, with other members of the practice team doing 10.5 million appointments.
And well over half – 54.8% – of patients were seen face to face, up from 53.7% in March.
The figures showed that 45.5% of appointments took place on the same day as they were booked.
BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the figures highlighted the ‘immense pressures’ that GPs and are under with the ever-increasing workload generated by the pandemic and patient backlog.
‘The data is a stark indication that this is not only an unsustainable way of working, but also that practices – often understaffed and woefully under-resourced – are starting to crack as a result.
He added: ‘It’s testament to general practice that in April, the majority of appointments were done the same day as booking.
‘The number of consultations taking place after a two-to-seven day wait is going up, which is a sign that practices are responding appropriately to the needs of their patients who want to wait for a specific timed appointment, often face-to-face.’
But its also a sign that other practices are struggling to meet same day requests and shows the ‘serious toll’ that increased patient demand is having on surgeries.
The previous month’s figures – March 2021 – showed 28.4 million estimated appointments.
A report from the NHS Confederation in May warned that general practice needs a ‘black alert’ system to flag unsafe workload and help formally document the ‘immense pressure’ the sector is under.
Dr Vautrey pointed to recent BMA research showing doctors are suffering ‘moral distress’ and even ‘moral injury’ because they cannot give their patients the care and support they want to.
‘The BMA has warned time and again that the problems in general practice pre-pandemic were going to have a knock-on effect during and after Covid-19, and this cannot continue to be ignored.
‘Before Covid-19, patient demand was increasing while the number of GPs was falling, so the much needed solutions aren’t new – we need more staff, more resources, better premises and more support from Government if we’re to avoid an even bigger, potentially irreversible crisis in general practice. ‘The difference this time is that there isn’t any time left, and that ignoring these problems actively threatens the collapse of primary care – and ultimately the foundations on which the rest of the NHS is built.’