What’s happening with GP appointments?

DHC Director, Graham Kendall, explores trends in the latest GP appointment data and highlights how experiences vary across the country.

As discussed in this article for the HSJ, the official data contain highly suspect figures to say the least. Despite these reservations, especially about online appointment rates, trends relating to total number of appointments are interesting:

  • Total GP appointments in May 2020 were just 67% of those in May 2019.
  • Total GP appointments in May 2020 were just 2.6% higher compared to April 2020 – so effectively flatlining since Covid.

That 33% drop in year-on-year activity has not been experienced uniformly across the country. The CCG with the largest drop (Bury) plummeted by over 70% year-on-year to 28% of last year’s numbers, whereas the CCG with levels closest to last year (West London) fell by just 13%.

The map below shows just how varied these falls have been across the country. The darker the shading, the larger the fall in year-on-year appointments.

While it gives a snapshot of differences across the country, we urgently need more reliable data to explain what’s driving this variation and inform decision making. That’s why the DHC has called for a reliable count of online appointments, including measures of availability and demand.