Face-to-face GP appointments at highest level since BEFORE Covid nationally… but just 12 PER CENT of consultations are done in-person at worst-performing surgeries, official data shows as Government starts ‘naming and shaming’
- NHS data shows seven in 10 GP appointments in England were in-person last month— highest since pre-Covid
- The rate dropped as low as four in 10 during the early days of the pandemic, as Britons were told to stay home
- Despite 80% of patients seen in-person pre-Covid, doctors have suggested figure may never bounce back
The proportion of patients seen in-person in general practice has bounced to its highest level since Covid first hit British shores.
NHS Digital data shows seven in 10 consultations in England were face-to-face in October — the highest level since March 2020, when the UK was plunged into its first national lockdown.
The rate dropped as low as four in 10 during the early days of the pandemic, as Britons were told to stay at home to limit the spread of the virus.
Despite 80 per cent of patients being seen in-person pre-Covid, top doctors have suggested the figure may never bounce back to this level.
The jump comes as the health service today published figures for every GP practice in England — naming and shaming surgeries that are still doing most appointments by phone or video calls.
The data reveals that just 12 per cent of appointments are face-to-face at the worst-performing trusts.
NHS Digital data for England in October shows more patients were seen face-to-face since Covid first hit the UK (71.3 per cent). Officials have told doctors to see more patients in-person over concerns about missed diagnoses
However, NHS Digital data also reveals that just 44 per cent appointments in October were with a GP — the lowest proportion since the pandemic began. The majority of appointments were with other practice staff, such as a nurse, health visitor or physiotherapist
NHS Digital published the data, which shows how many appointments each practice is delivering and how long patients are forced to wait for an appointment.
The Government said the practice-by-practice figure boosts transparency and helps patients make an informed choice about which one they register with.
Across England, there were 31.9million appointments in general practice in October — 13 per cent more than last month.
But just 44 per cent appointments were with a GP — the lowest proportion since records began in 2018. The majority of appointments were with other practice staff, such as a nurse, health visitor or physiotherapist.
And ill Britons faced the longest waits for appointments in at least two-and-a-half years, with just four in 10 (38.9 per cent) seen the same day the called up their local practice. One in five (19.6 per cent) were forced to wait more than two weeks — another high.
However, more patients were seen face-to-face since Covid first hit the UK (71.3 per cent). Officials have told doctors to see more patients in person over concerns about missed diagnoses.
The data also shows that 1.8million appointments (5.6 per cent) were missed last month — the highest rate ever.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘We promised to prioritise patients and improve access and that is exactly what we have done – and this is just the start.
‘I am determined to make it easier for people to get an appointment with their GP practice when they need one and this will allow patients to make a more informed choice about the care they receive.’
Minister of State for Health Neil O’Brien said: ‘This is about making sure patients can make genuine choices about where to access their care.
‘More than 90% of a patient’s direct experience of the NHS is through primary care and their GP practices so it is vital appointments are available when needed.
‘This government reiterated its commitment to the NHS during the Autumn Statement and improving access to data is just the start.’