General practice delivering ‘up to double the appointments it is paid for’

Basic observe in England delivered almost 350m appointments together with COVID-19 vaccinations within the 12 months to June 2022 in response to figures from NHS Digital.

This whole means that practices delivered round 5.7 appointments for each affected person within the nation inside that 12-month interval. NHS information additionally present that basic observe delivered 367m appointments in 2021 – round six appointments per affected person.

However evaluation by GPonline means that the true determine could possibly be between 9 and 10 appointments per affected person per 12 months – a determine double the extent practices have been funded to supply when the present GP contract mannequin took impact from 2004.

GP workload

Whole appointments recorded by NHS Digital based mostly on information from GP observe IT programs are prone to be a big underestimate as a result of they don’t depend phone contacts with sufferers or dwelling visits precisely.

Explanatory notes on the appointments information clarify that whereas face-to-face appointments are normally logged individually with one affected person contact per reserving, ‘many phone triage and residential visits seem as one lengthy blocked time period which aren’t booked to particular person sufferers’.

Polling by GPonline earlier this 12 months discovered that GPs reported delivering 46 consultations on common per day – almost double the protected restrict beneficial by the BMA. Primarily based on this determine, the full-time equal, totally certified workforce of 27,558 GPs would ship round 280m consultations in 251 working days throughout a full 12 months.

NHS information present that round half of appointments typically observe are delivered by GPs – suggesting that the actual whole variety of appointments could possibly be 550m-plus – greater than 9 contacts per affected person per 12 months.


BMA GP committee member Dr Peter Holden informed GPonline that one thing near 10 appointments per affected person per 12 months was not an unrealistic estimate.

He added that along with massive numbers of appointments, rising complexity of affected person contacts had added additional to intense stress on basic observe. This web site reported earlier this month that one in 5 appointments typically observe now final greater than 20 minutes.

Dr Holden stated the practice-based GMS contract that took impact in 2004 – which stays the idea for GP funding – was resourced based mostly on between 4 and 5 appointments per affected person per 12 months, consistent with information from the now-defunct Basic Family Survey.

Ideas that basic observe is delivering much more appointments than the headline figures from NHS Digital present are supported additional by evaluation of the QResearch database printed in 2009 – which confirmed that by 2008 the common affected person had 5.5 consultations per 12 months typically observe. This determine had risen sharply from 3.9 in 1995, the researchers discovered – and workload has intensified considerably since.

GP contract

Dr Holden, a BMA negotiator when the 2004 contract took impact, stated: ‘The GP contract is funded for about 45 minutes of my time per affected person per 12 months. About 4 consultations a 12 months.

‘Basically as basic observe does increasingly more, and hosps do much less and fewer – or the NHS does extra and we do a higher proportion of it – we’re nonetheless funded within the previous approach and that now not accounts for the expansion in our enterprise.

‘The underside line is we are actually doing much more work. Extra is being carried out in main care and transferring out of hospital however we’ve not been resourced for it.’

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