New data shows rise in GP appointments
Almost 70,000 more GP appointments were held in January this year than in December, new data for the Black Country has revealed.
The latest figures for GP access show that 609,685 appointments took place in January, up from 541,146 in December 2022.
Of these, 46% took place on the same day and 73% of appointments were face to face, which is up from 54% compared to January 2021.
The vital role of the wider teams working alongside GPs was also clear in the statistics, as 47% of all appointments were with other trained health professionals such as practice nurses, advanced nurse practitioners and pharmacists.
Dr Salma Reehana, a local GP in the Black Country, said: “Like much of the NHS, demand for GP services continues to increase, and our teams are working harder than ever to ensure patients get the care they need.
“We are proud of our primary care colleagues who have embraced technology and new ways of working, enabling us to provide more primary care appointments in our system than ever before, despite a fall in the number of GPs.
“There isn’t one type of appointment that suits all patients and GPs in the Black Country have adapted to provide patients with alternative methods of accessing services via telephone and online consultations, whilst continuing to offer face-to-face appointments when clinically appropriate.
“Many GP practices now have a range of health professionals and trained clinicians available who can also diagnose and treat health conditions. This ensures patients see the right person at the right time more quickly and allows GPs to spend more time with patients with the greatest needs.
“Additional GP appointments are now also available on evenings and weekends, giving patients more choice and flexibility for routine, bookable appointments to fit in with their busy schedules and family commitments.
“It’s important that people know their GP is open and here for them, so I would encourage. anyone who needs help to come forward. However, please help us help you by choosing the correct service for you. For any minor illnesses, your local pharmacist should be your first port of call. Pharmacists are trained medical professionals and can help recognise and treat many common illnesses. They can give advice and, where appropriate, recommend over-the-counter medicines that could help clear up the problem.”
The new statistics have also revealed that 6% of appointments were DNAs, which is where a patient fails to attend an appointment but does not cancel so it can be rebooked by the practice. In many practices appointments can be cancelled by text or online, so there’s no need to phone.
Dr Reehana added: “More than 36,000 appointment slots were missed in January across the Black Country. These slots are incredibly precious, especially as demand for appointments remains high, so we would encourage those who no longer need an appointment to make every effort to cancel in advance so somebody else can have the slot.”
For more information on the different roles available at GP practices and the enhanced access arrangements, click here.