Online providers buck the trend

July’s rise in GP appointment numbers is welcome but it masks a steepening fall year-on-year. Despite this grim pattern, areas using DHC members for video consultations continue to buck the trend, writes DHC Director, Graham Kendall.

July’s GP appointment data show a mixed picture. There were more than 22.4 million appointments. That’s an increase of 1.8 million compared to June 2020. But here’s the rub: that’s a decrease of almost 15% when compared to a year ago (26.25 million appointments in July 2019). By contrast, June’s figures were down just 11.5% year-on-year.

As I noted when commenting on last month’s figures, there’s plenty of variation masked by that national average.

  • Only one CCG (NHS Warrington) carried out more appointments in July 2020 compared to a year ago.
  • The same four CCGs that led the pack in June (NHS Warrington CCG, NHS Hammersmith and Fulham CCG, NHS North Tyneside CCG, NHS West London CCG) are all within touching distance of keeping things at roughly similar levels as last year (i.e. > 95% of last year’s activity)
  • The map shows dramatically different activity rates in neighbouring CCGs. Have a look at the Liverpool/Manchester corridor for example, or zoom into the London area.
  • Many of the areas struggling to recover activity levels are the same as last month – i.e. this isn’t a fluke, it could be the beginning of a trend.

All in all, it’s striking that many of the areas that have done best in maintaining appointment levels are those that use DHC members for video appointments.