GP appointments data reveal year-on-year rise in workload

GP practices across England delivered nearly 500,000 more appointments in November 2018 compared with the previous November, official data reveal.

GP consultation (Photo: iStock.com/sturti)
GP consultation (Photo: iStock.com/sturti)

The total number of appointments delivered in November 2018 rose to 28.5m from 28m the previous November, figures from NHS Digital reveal - an increase of 1.7%.

The latest data come just a month after NHS Digital published comprehensive data on GP appointments for the first time, showing that practices deliver more than 1m appointments per day.

Over the 13-month period for which data is now available, November 2018 had the second-highest number of appointments recorded in a single month, behind only October 2018 - which saw 29.7m appointments delivered by GP practices across England.

GP appointments

The latest data show that the proportion of appointments delivered within a week of booking dropped from 68.5% in November 2017 to 65.9% in November 2018.

Family Doctor Association chair Dr Peter Swinyard told GPonline that the figures reflected rising pressure on general practice.

'What is interesting is the numbers of consultation are rising steadily, but numbers of GPs are dropping - so there is going to be increasing pressure per GP in terms of the appointments demanded of them. Those extra 500,000 appointments will not materialise out of thin air, they have to be done by someone.'

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said the government remains committed to delivering an extra 5,000 full-time equivalent GPs compared with the September 2015 position - but has dropped the timescale for delivering this, saying it will be achieved 'as soon as possible'.

Workforce

Dr Swinyard said that with rising pressure on a GP workforce that was becoming smaller, practices would need to do more to manage demand - potentially through better clinical triage of calls.

Some practices that have adopted clinical triage of all calls have found that in excess of half of all calls can be managed without needing to come for a face-to-face appointment.

However, Dr Swinyard warned that telephone triage was not a panacea - and that some doctors found it did not substantially reduce workload.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Redacting information from medical records - advice for GPs

Redacting information from medical records - advice for GPs

MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Ellie Mein provides advice for GPs on reacting information...

Medicine shortages set to continue despite Brexit delay

Medicine shortages set to continue despite Brexit delay

Medicine shortages are unlikely to improve as a result of Brexit being delayed healthcare...

Doctors less likely to be investigated for 'one-off' mistakes under new GMC rules

Doctors less likely to be investigated for 'one-off' mistakes under new GMC rules

The GMC is introducing new measures to reduce the number of full investigations in...

RCGP revokes Sultan of Brunei's honorary title over anti-LGBTQ laws

RCGP revokes Sultan of Brunei's honorary title over anti-LGBTQ laws

The RCGP has revoked the honorary title it awarded the Sultan of Brunei following...

Financial considerations for primary care networks

Financial considerations for primary care networks

Specialist accountant Laurence Slavin highlights the financial issues that practices...

Number of CCGs could be cut by 75% by April 2020

Number of CCGs could be cut by 75% by April 2020

Measures to cut the number of CCGs in England by more than three quarters could be...