Responding to the publication of GP appointment data, Dr Mark Sanford-Wood, BMA GP committee deputy chair, said:
"Today’s GP data shows that the total number of appointments delivered by general practice in August (25.5 million) remains higher than pre-pandemic levels (23.3 million in August 2019). The percentage of appointments delivered face-to-face has also risen to 57.7%, while the percentage of appointments delivered remotely (by telephone and video consultations) has fallen. GPs are doing their best to give as many patients as possible the appointments they need safely, against a backdrop of a shortage of GPs, all the while still working within the national guidance of infection control and social distancing measures.
"We didn’t have enough GPs before the pandemic, and we don’t have enough now. Sadly, there are 1,904 fewer fully qualified full-time GPs than there were in 2015. Every part of the NHS is under an immense burden like never before. Waiting lists, a huge backlog and many people needing their GPs who have been waiting so as not to overload general practice – all these factors layered together give us a crisis in healthcare. Covid is still impacting GPs and their teams with staff absences, having to cope with small waiting rooms and now an earlier than normal increase in respiratory viruses piling on even more pressure.
"Despite this, these government figures show that GPs are working harder than ever and dealing with even more patients than before the pandemic."
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.