NHS England praises GPs after steep rise in general practice appointments

NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani has thanked GPs and their teams after official data showed general practice delivered 26.65m appointments last month – more than in any month since January this year.

NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani
NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani

The latest figures from NHS Digital also showed that in September practices provided the highest proportion of appointments face-to-face since March this year. Over 15m appointments were delivered face-to-face in September – 56.6% of the total number for that month.

The total number of appointments delivered in September was 20% higher than in August and almost 11m up on the number provided during the first peak of the pandemic in April. It was also higher than the number of appointments provided in the same month last year.

Dr Nikki Kanani took to Twitter to thank GPs and their teams, telling them they were 'valued and appreciated'.

The statistics come as GPonline reported this week that practices across England have continued to face abuse and complaints in the wake of an 'insulting' letter from NHS England last month. Despite a swift apology from Dr Kanani for ‘any hurt’ caused by the letter, GPs have said they feel like they are bearing the brunt of complaints about health services.

A practice in Bristol was daubed with abusive graffiti this week, which GPs working at the surgery said was a result of the negative media coverage received by the profession.

Appointments in general practice

In a video posted on Twitter Dr Kanani said: 'These figures show what many of us have known intimately throughout the pandemic, that our general practice teams [have] been working incredibly hard to rapidly adapt how we offer care to make sure that we keep our patients and our staff safe, while maintaining services.'

She said NHS England and Improvement wanted to thank GPs and their staff for 'everything they've done through the pandemic' and specifically thanked 'colleagues from different ethnic backgrounds who have been understandably worried about their own health'.

Dr Kanani added: 'We know that you're tired, and we know that you're doing the very best you can in an incredibly difficult time. So please make sure you rest and recharge knowing that you're valued and appreciated by your NHS family.'

The latest figures show that 38.5% of appointments in September were by telephone, 0.47% were video or online and 0.56% were home visits. NHS Digital was unable to categorise how the remaining appointments were delivered.

Some 45% of patients were able to get a same-day appointment and 75% were able to get an appointment within a week.

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