New data shows GP teams delivered almost 30 million appointments for patients last month (March 2024), up almost a quarter on the same period before the pandemic.

The figures show there were around 29.8 million appointments delivered by GPs and their teams in just one month, compared with 24.2 million in March 2019 – an increase of 5.6 million (23.1%).

And on average, thanks to the primary care recovery plan, the NHS is now offering more than 1.4 million GP appointments every working day.

NHS staff continue to exceed ambitions to provide 50 million more appointments by March 2024 with the figures showing that GPs and their teams have delivered an extra 56.3 million appointments (363.6 million excluding Covid vaccinations) or 63.4 million (370.7 million including Covid vaccinations) over the last year compared to 2018/19.

More than nine in ten (95%) of GP practices in England have now upgraded their phone tech thanks to the ambitious blueprint with the move meaning that phone lines can be expanded and won’t ever be engaged. The remaining practices are agreeing dates within the next month for upgrades to happen with tech suppliers.

Every GP practice must offer face to face appointments as well as telephone and online consultations, with some patients choosing remote appointments where it is clinically appropriate and more convenient for them. Today’s data shows almost two-thirds of appointments took place face-to-face (65.4%) in March.

Dr Amanda Doyle, national director for primary care, NHS England said: “Thanks to GPs and their hardworking teams, millions more appointments are being delivered every month compared to before the pandemic with plans in place to improve access even further.

“Every GP practice is upgrading their telephone systems to make it easier for patients to contact their surgery, while patients can use the NHS app to order repeat prescriptions and view their test results without needing to contact their family doctor.

“We know there is more to do to make it easier for patients to access GP services, which is why, building on the successes so far of the primary care access recovery plan we will continue to modernise general practice, expand pharmacy services, and offer patients more choice in how they access care.”

Primary Care Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “Today’s figures clearly demonstrate that more people are getting the care they need, when they need it, thanks to the hard work of our GPs and their teams.

“GPs and their staff have already delivered on a number of pledges – including exceeding the target of 50 million additional general practice appointments per year, several months ahead of schedule – and through the measures in the Primary Care Recovery Plan, the NHS and primary care staff are freeing up millions of extra appointments per year and making it easier for patients to access the care they need.

“We remain committed to making our healthcare system faster, simpler and fairer for all patients so that everyone who needs an appointment is able to get one.”

Hundreds of thousands more people a month will have the option to refer themselves for key services such as help with incontinence, podiatry, or hearing tests without needing to see a GP, as part of the NHS primary care access recovery plan.

Around 180,000 more people a month will be able to self-refer for additional services such as incontinence support or community nursing without seeing their GP, so family doctors’ time can be freed up to focus on delivering care to people who need it most.

Across NHS services, around 200,000 people a month already self-refer themselves for treatment for podiatry, audiology, and physiotherapy but local services will now be able to expand the option of self-referral to other key services based on the needs of their population.

All data can be found here: Appointments in General Practice – NHS England Digital

Source: NHS / Public Health England

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