Map: Which parts of England have the fastest-rising demand for GP appointments?

GP practices faced a massive increase in workload through 2021 as demand for appointments surged well beyond rates seen in 2019. Explore the map below to find out how different areas compare.

Pins marking points on a map
Map of rising GP appointments (Photo: David Aubrey/Getty Images)

GPonline reported last week that in some CCG areas, total appointments delivered by general practice in the past three months were up by more than a quarter compared with the same three-month period in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demand for appointments has risen across the country as a record NHS waiting list has forced practices to provide repeated appointments for patients facing long delays after referral for hospital treatment, adding to growing pressure from an ageing, increasingly complex patient population.

GP practice teams have also delivered tens of millions of COVID-19 vaccinations as part of the unprecedented pandemic vaccination campaign over the past year. The figures in the map below do not include COVID-19 vaccination work - and the fact that the vast majority of areas have seen a significant increase in demand even before COVID-19 jabs are factored in reflects the intense pressure GPs currently face.

GP workload

In addition to the workload increase reflected  in the map above, data from the RCGP shows that clinical administrative work for practices - relating to tasks such as prescriptions and referral letters- has increased by around a third compared with before the pandemic.

GP workforce

Practices are tackling this workload with a depleted workforce - in recent weeks as levels of COVID-19 infections rose to unprecedented levels amid the spread of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, large numbers of staff have been forced to stay off work.

COVID-19 related staff absences have compounded pre-existing workforce shortages in general practice, with BMA estimates suggesting that general practice currently has 1,700 fewer full-time equivalent GPs compared with around six years ago.

Doctors' leaders have warned that the profession needs significant additional support to cope with pressures facing it - and has urged the government to get its pledges to recruit more GPs and additional staff back on track.

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said late last year that the Conservatives' manifesto pledge to recruit 6,000 more full-time equivalent GPs by 2024 was not on track, and doctors' leaders have warned that plans to bring in 26,000 staff to support general practice through the additional roles reimbursement scheme are also behind schedule.

Note: map was updated after publication to correct some data errors

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