Enormous jump in GP appointments is testament to dedication of GPs despite lack of Government support, warns BMA

BMA press release.

Location: England
Published: Thursday 28 October 2021
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Responding to the latest set of GP appointment data1 in England which shows that the number of appointments have increased by 4.7million over the last month and face-to-face appointments have risen by over a quarter, BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said:

“The enormous jump in appointments in general practice in the last month, up by 4.7million, is a clear sign that GPs are working harder than ever to see as many patients as possible and clear the backlog. This is a testament to the dedication of GPs and practice staff who are going above and beyond to deliver care in exceptionally difficult circumstances, amid a persistent decline in the number of GPs2 and the implications of Covid safety measures on how care can be delivered.

“Notably, the number of face-to-face GP appointments has also risen by a quarter over the last month, making up almost two thirds of all appointments, which should equivocally put to bed the demoralising and inaccurate narrative that GPs are no longer seeing patients in person.

“While GPs are seeing far more patients and clearing the backlog, we should not underestimate the impact this is having as there is no denying that the current demand and workload on GPs and the wider workforce is taking an incredible toll.

“It was hugely disappointing that yesterday’s budget made no mention of general practice and the Government have again failed to set out any credible plans for how 50 million appointments can be delivered or offer support to boost the workforce.

“Crucially, we need more GPs and that means investing in increasing medical school places now, alongside measures to boost retention such as reforming pension taxation, as the situation is currently unsustainable.”

Notes to editors

  1. Latest NHS Digital GP appointment data.
  2. BMA analysis looking at decline in number of GPs versus increase in demand. There are actually the equivalent of 1,803 fewer fully qualified full-time GPs today than there were in 2015.