GP face-to-face appointments are now at highest level since Covid kicked off


The proportion of people seeing their GP face-to-face has risen to its highest level since the start of the pandemic, official figures show.

Two-thirds of appointments with family doctors in England last month were in-person, according to the latest data from NHS Digital. The 66.1 per cent figure is still well below the 80 per cent average before the pandemic struck.

However, it is the highest rate since March 2020, when the UK was plunged into its first national lockdown as the coronavirus swept across the country.

Campaigners and the Government have long-demanded that GPs return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Meanwhile, nearly half of appointments last month lasted less than 10 minutes in some practices — including some in Leicester, Nottingham and Suffolk.

Appointments are supposed to last 10 to 15 minutes, with an NHS review finding that patients feel they are unable to cover their health problems in a shorter timeframe.

It warned that this could lead to patients booking additional appointments, clogging up the availability of family doctors.  

Two-thirds of appointments with family doctors in England last month were in-person, according to the latest data from NHS Digital. The 66.1 per cent figure is still well below the 80 per cent average before the pandemic struck. However, it is the highest rate since March 2020, when the UK was plunged into its first national lockdown as the coronavirus swept across the country

Some 48.5 per cent of appointments in August were with family doctors, while the same proportion were with other practice staff, such as nurses. The mode was not logged for three per cent of consultations

Some 48.5 per cent of appointments in August were with family doctors, while the same proportion were with other practice staff, such as nurses. The mode was not logged for three per cent of consultations 

Law student, 26, died after wrongly being denied a face-to-face appointment with his GP, NHS officials say 

A law student died after wrongly being denied a face-to-face GP appointment, the NHS has admitted.

David Nash, 26, from Nantwich in Cheshire, had four phone appointments with GPs and nurses between October and November 2020.

He was denied an in-person consultation, despite telling practice staff that he was suffering excruciating ear and neck pain and slurring his words.

Mr Nash tested negative for Covid on the same day he was finally due a face-to-face appointment, only for it to be cancelled anyway. 

Medics told him to re-test and prescribed him painkillers, in what one GP described as ‘a breach of duty’. 

He died from a brain abscess two days after his last contact with his GP surgery. Relatives say it was triggered by an ear infection.

An internal NHS England probe into Mr Nash’s death concluded that ‘a face-to-face assessment should have been offered or organised’.

Mr Nash’s parents, who are convinced he would be alive if he was seen in-person, have spoken out about the ‘appalling care’ their son received, accusing the health service of ‘completely’ letting him down.  

The family of the law student believe he would not have died if he had been seen face-to-face by a GP

The family of the law student believe he would not have died if he had been seen face-to-face by a GP

The health service data shows that 26.5million people in England attended a GP appointment in August.

The proportion of patients seen in-person jumped one per cent between July and August, from 65.4 to 66.1 per cent.

Nearly 8million (30 per cent) were conducted over the phone — the lowest rate since the start of the pandemic — while 200,000 were a home visit (0.8 per cent).

Some 150,000 were video calls (0.6 per cent), while the mode was not logged 670,000 consultations (2.5 per cent).

The rate of in-person appointments fell to a low of 46.7 per cent in April 2020, as Britons were ordered to stay at home in the early days of the crisis.

But it has been trending upwards since, reaching 60.1 per cent in January.

Campaigners have demanded ministers act to bring levels back up, warning virtual consultations risk missing tell-tale symptoms of serious illnesses. 

The data also revealed that more than four in 10 appointments lasted less than 10 minutes last month.

At the worst hit surgeries — located in Leicestershire and Rutland, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk and North East Essex — up to 43.5 per cent of appointments were over within that timeframe.

Doctors warn that squeezing in too many appointments raises the risk of missing diseases and prescribing the wrong drugs. 

The NHS says most GPs offer 10 to 15 minute appointments, which gives them enough time to see a patient, complete the consultation and deal with any admin.

Meanwhile, 48.5 per cent of appointments were with family doctors, while the same proportion were with other practice staff, such as nurses. 

Ruth Rankine, director of primary care at the NHS Confederation, said NHS staff have made ‘significant strides’ in ‘recovering and restoring access to general practice’.

She said: ‘Primary care teams continue to carry out record levels of appointments.’

Ms Rankine added: ‘As we approach what we know will be a particularly difficult winter where the UK Health Security Agency is urging over 30million people to get a Covid and flu vaccine to boost protection levels, it is now more important than ever that the Government starts supporting primary care services so they can deliver these vital programmes.’

‘This includes fully resourcing its workforce and providing the capital investment general practice desperately needs.’

The new data comes after shadow health secretary Wes Streeting pledged that patients would find it easier to see GPs under a Labour government.

Mr Streeting said he would seek to force GPs to provide appointments in their surgeries to every patient that requests one.

He also pledged to make booking appointments simpler to end the 8am rush to win a slot.

He told the Labour Party conference in Liverpool: ‘Patients deserve better than a two-week wait to see a GP.

‘I have higher standards for patients. When we were in government, Labour guaranteed appointments within two days.

‘So Labour will give all patients the ability to book online, the opportunity to self-refer to specialist services where appropriate, and a wider range of choice so that we can choose whether we want to see someone face-to-face, or on the phone, or via a video link.

‘The days of waiting on the phone at 8am to book an appointment with your GP will be over and we will bring back the family doctor.’

Health Secretary Therese Coffey last week set out plans for patients to see a GP within two weeks, and said people will be able to see how well their GP practice performs compared with others, potentially allowing them to join a different one.

But Ms Coffey said the new target was an ‘expectation’ and GPs who fail to offer appointments to patients within two weeks will not face any sanctions. 

It comes as the NHS admitted that a law student died after wrongly being denied a face-to-face GP appointment. 

David Nash, 26, from Nantwich in Cheshire, had four phone appointments with GPs and nurses between October and November 2020.

He told practice staff that he was suffering excruciating ear and neck pain and slurring his words but was denied an in-person consultation.

He died from a brain abscess two days after his last contact with his GP surgery. Relatives say it was triggered by an ear infection.

An internal NHS England probe into Mr Nash’s death concluded that ‘a face-to-face assessment should have been offered or organised’. 

Almost half of appointments done within 10 minutes in parts of England
GP Practice Region Total Appointments in August Appointments lasting less than 10 minutes Percentage lasting less than 10 minutes
NHS Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland ICB – 04V 192,720 83793 43.50%
NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICB – 02Q 51,943 22532 43.40%
NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB – 07K 113,023 48850 43.20%
NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB – 06L 170,964 72860 42.60%
NHS North East and North Cumbria ICB – 84H 289,018 123100 42.60%
NHS West Yorkshire ICB – 02T 100,023 42157 42.10%
NHS North East and North Cumbria ICB – 16C 297,081 124409 41.90%
NHS Hampshire and Isle Of Wight ICB – 10R 76,347 31679 41.50%
NHS Mid and South Essex ICB – 06Q 154,099 63836 41.40%
NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board 439,404 181716 41.40%
NHS Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care Board 534,046 220210 41.20%
NHS Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland ICB – 04C 178,359 73512 41.20%
NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board 508,884 208754 41.00%
NHS South Yorkshire ICB – 03L 127,491 52258 41.00%
NHS Mid and South Essex ICB – 99F 65,539 26797 40.90%
NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICB – 52R 456,941 186222 40.80%
NHS Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board 365,852 149083 40.70%
NHS Lincolnshire ICB – 71E 365,852 149083 40.70%
NHS West Yorkshire ICB – 03R 186,432 75599 40.60%
NHS Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB – 05D 56,705 22955 40.50%
NHS Dorset Integrated Care Board 357,725 144223 40.30%
NHS Dorset ICB – 11J 357,725 144223 40.30%
NHS North East and North Cumbria ICB – 00L 158,029 63601 40.20%
NHS Mid and South Essex Integrated Care Board 465,024 186955 40.20%
NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB – 02Y 125,126 50255 40.20%
NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB – 03K 83,695 33549 40.10%
NHS Devon Integrated Care Board 614,848 246121 40.00%
NHS Devon ICB – 15N 614,848 246121 40.00%
NHS Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Board 518,489 206351 39.80%
NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB – 26A 518,489 206351 39.80%
NHS Mid and South Essex ICB – 99E 110,008 43722 39.70%
NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB – 06K 226,523 89595 39.60%
NHS Mid and South Essex ICB – 99G 62,709 24745 39.50%
NHS Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board 433,333 170324 39.30%
NHS Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire ICB – 92G 433,333 170324 39.30%
NHS Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board 316,896 124541 39.30%
NHS Gloucestershire ICB – 11M 316,896 124541 39.30%
East of England 2,821,831 1107546 39.20%
NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care Board 428,802 167845 39.10%
NHS Cambridgeshire and Peterborough ICB – 06H 428,802 167845 39.10%
NHS South Yorkshire ICB – 02P 110,028 42864 39.00%
NHS South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board 632,008 246064 38.90%
NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board 395,252 153552 38.80%
NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes ICB – M1J4Y 395,252 153552 38.80%
NHS North West London Integrated Care Board 1,005,963 390233 38.80%
NHS North West London ICB – W2U3Z 1,005,963 390233 38.80%
NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB – 03H 95,995 37209 38.80%
NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB – 06T 155,417 60006 38.60%
NHS Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland ICB – 03W 162,967 62905 38.60%
NHS South Yorkshire ICB – 02X 138,589 53379 38.50%
NHS North East and North Cumbria ICB – 01H 160,902 61825 38.40%
NHS Mid and South Essex ICB – 07G 72,669 27855 38.30%
NHS Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB – 05Q 83,973 32111 38.20%
NHS Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Integrated Care Board 769,117 293765 38.20%
NHS Sussex ICB – 70F 387,597 147969 38.20%
NHS South Yorkshire ICB – 03N 255,900 97563 38.10%
NHS Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board 600,890 229048 38.10%
NHS Birmingham and Solihull ICB – 15E 600,890 229048 38.10%
North East and Yorkshire 3,964,480 1505565 38.00%
NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB – 03F 110,919 42100 38.00%
NHS Northamptonshire Integrated Care Board 332,066 125993 37.90%
NHS Northamptonshire ICB – 78H 332,066 125993 37.90%
NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB – 42D 212,912 80774 37.90%
NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board 768,296 290978 37.90%
NHS Hampshire and Isle Of Wight ICB – D9Y0V 692,770 262086 37.80%
NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board 1,196,140 452294 37.80%
NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board 1,368,036 516229 37.70%
South West 2,679,814 1010895 37.70%
NHS Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Integrated Care Board 300,082 113156 37.70%
NHS Cornwall and The Isles Of Scilly ICB – 11N 300,082 113156 37.70%
NHS West Yorkshire ICB – X2C4Y 201,330 75804 37.70%
Midlands 4,764,031 1788156 37.50%
NHS Greater Manchester ICB – 00V 60,252 22602 37.50%
NHS Sussex Integrated Care Board 748,738 280455 37.50%
NHS West Yorkshire ICB – 15F 372,939 139330 37.40%
NHS Derby and Derbyshire Integrated Care Board 486,467 181362 37.30%
NHS Derby and Derbyshire ICB – 15M 486,467 181362 37.30%
NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire Integrated Care Board 395,475 147245 37.20%
NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire ICB – 18C 395,475 147245 37.20%
NHS Sussex ICB – 97R 245,411 90265 36.80%
NHS Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West ICB – 10Q 310,887 114191 36.70%
NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board 574,860 211127 36.70%
NHS Coventry and Warwickshire Integrated Care Board 403,378 147448 36.60%
NHS Coventry and Warwickshire ICB – B2M3M 403,378 147448 36.60%
South East 3,728,669 1362682 36.50%
NHS Sussex ICB – 09D 115,730 42221 36.50%
NHS Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West ICB – 15A 216,464 78537 36.30%
England 24,369,792 8832752 36.20%
NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB – 07H 119,557 43319 36.20%
NHS Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board 754,089 271329 36.00%
NHS Kent and Medway ICB – 91Q 754,089 271329 36.00%
NHS Greater Manchester ICB – 00T 133,347 47689 35.80%
NHS Surrey Heartlands Integrated Care Board 406,029 145174 35.80%
NHS Surrey Heartlands ICB – 92A 406,029 145174 35.80%
NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB – 01K 145,253 51835 35.70%
NHS West Yorkshire ICB – 36J 335,416 119404 35.60%
NHS Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care Board 729,828 258731 35.50%
NHS Frimley Integrated Care Board 320,868 113228 35.30%
NHS Frimley ICB – D4U1Y 320,868 113228 35.30%
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB – 01V 50,309 17648 35.10%
NHS Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB – 04Y 54,358 18766 34.50%
NHS Greater Manchester ICB – 01D 80,834 27896 34.50%
NHS Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB – 06N 228,780 78213 34.20%
NHS Somerset Integrated Care Board 255,551 86812 34.00%
NHS Somerset ICB – 11X 255,551 86812 34.00%
NHS North East and North Cumbria ICB – 00P 107,996 36536 33.80%
NHS Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Integrated Care Board 430,079 145227 33.80%
NHS Humber and North Yorkshire ICB – 03Q 139,649 47091 33.70%
NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB – 02G 44,634 15024 33.70%
NHS Greater Manchester ICB – 01G 117,367 39373 33.50%
NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB – 00X 70,149 23477 33.50%
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB – 27D 308,328 102987 33.40%
NHS Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB – 05V 57,540 19174 33.30%
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB – 01T 46,850 15604 33.30%
NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care Board 211,689 70404 33.30%
NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin ICB – M2L0M 211,689 70404 33.30%
NHS South West London Integrated Care Board 579,489 191356 33.00%
NHS South West London ICB – 36L 579,489 191356 33.00%
NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board 495,205 163382 33.00%
NHS Black Country ICB – D2P2L 495,205 163382 33.00%
NHS Greater Manchester ICB – 14L 232,953 76128 32.70%
NHS Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West ICB – 14Y 202,477 66003 32.60%
NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care Board 1,120,265 364760 32.60%
NHS Greater Manchester ICB – 01W 133,944 43565 32.50%
London 3,524,366 1145265 32.50%
NHS North East and North Cumbria ICB – 99C 91,170 29106 31.90%
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB – 12F 165,957 52628 31.70%
North West 2,886,601 912643 31.60%
NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB – 00Q 64,480 20328 31.50%
NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board 401,379 125718 31.30%
NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire ICB – 15C 401,379 125718 31.30%
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care Board 1,057,395 328101 31.00%
NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board 708,941 219782 31.00%
NHS Greater Manchester ICB – 00Y 90,914 27930 30.70%
NHS North East and North Cumbria ICB – 13T 206,686 63415 30.70%
NHS South East London Integrated Care Board 625,549 191634 30.60%
NHS South East London ICB – 72Q 625,549 191634 30.60%
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB – 02E 87,763 26881 30.60%
NHS Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB – 05G 81,750 24663 30.20%
NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB – 01A 140,323 42174 30.10%
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB – 99A 214,322 63864 29.80%
NHS North East London Integrated Care Board 780,459 232392 29.80%
NHS North East London ICB – A3A8R 780,459 232392 29.80%
NHS Greater Manchester ICB – 02H 114,526 33846 29.60%
NHS Greater Manchester ICB – 01Y 81,752 24077 29.50%
NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB – 00R 77,191 22492 29.10%
NHS Greater Manchester ICB – 02A 74,376 21654 29.10%
NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB – 01E 82,713 23830 28.80%
NHS Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent ICB – 05W 95,753 27558 28.80%
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB – 01J 63,261 17681 27.90%
NHS North Central London Integrated Care Board 532,906 139650 26.20%
NHS North Central London ICB – 93C 532,906 139650 26.20%
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB – 01X 70,254 18049 25.70%
NHS Cheshire and Merseyside ICB – 01F 50,351 12759 25.30%
NHS North East and North Cumbria ICB – 00N 57,154 14237 24.90%
NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB – 02M 84,198 20622 24.50%



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