One in eight GP appointments take place in England’s worst-performing practices, according to government figures published today.
The government’s first ‘league table’, designed to ‘name and shame’ surgeries to see more patients in the flesh, showed 12 per cent of consultations took place in person at some practices across London in October.
That’s a fraction of the national average of 71 percent — the highest since before Covid.
The practice-by-practice data, which ministers claim will help patients make ‘more informed choices’ about where they seek treatment, also suggests some surgeries do not offer same-day appointments for vulnerable patients.
Nationally, one in five patients waited more than two weeks to be seen – an all-time high.
Meanwhile, no patient saw a GP at a practice, instead appointments were made by nurses and other practice staff.
MailOnline’s interactive tool lets you find out how your GP practice fares.
Medical unions said the test data was ‘nothing more than a way to exercise “name and shame” when dedicated staff morale is at rock bottom.
A leading GP warned today that family doctors could take strike action by nurses, junior doctors and ambulance staff – warning general practice ‘cannot continue on its current course if it is to survive’.
It comes as national data shows the proportion of patients seen in person in general practice has returned to the highest level since March 2020, when the UK plunged into its first national lockdown.
NHS Digital data for England in October showed that more patients were seen face-to-face since Covid first hit the UK (71.3 per cent). Officials have asked doctors to see more patients in person because of concerns about missed diagnoses
However, NHS Digital data also revealed that only 44 per cent of appointments in October were with a GP – the lowest proportion since the start of the pandemic. Most appointments were with other practice staff, such as a nurse, health visitor or physiotherapist
NHS’s ‘toughest winter ever’: flu is already putting 10 times more pressure on sick services than last year Hospitals busier than ever and ambulances ‘meltdown’
A reckoning winter has arrived for the NHS with flu admissions already 10 times higher than last year, with hospital beds and ambulance delays leading to what officials say could be the health service’s ‘most challenging’ season yet.
NHS England’s first weekly winter situation report for 2022 shows that an average of 344 flu patients required hospital care each day from 14 to 20 November.
That’s more than 10 times the level seen in early December 2021, when an average of 31 patients required care for the flu each day.
Last year’s flu admissions, which were predicted to be high after Covid lockdowns blunted Britain’s immunity to the virus, topped almost 140 patients in hospital last winter.
The Health Service today published its first report on seasonal conditions for 2022, earlier than previous years, amid predictions it could be the toughest winter the NHS has faced.
Ambulance handovers also continue to suffer with one in 10 patients arriving at hospital being held outside for more than an hour waiting to be handed over as staff struggle to find rooms.
Data from the NHS reports that general and acute beds are already close to 100 per cent, with 19 out of 20 patients admitted.
This means the hospital has less capacity to accommodate potential increases in admissions.
Bed-blocking is exacerbating the problem and at a worse level than previous years.
More than 13,000 NHS bed patients were fit to leave hospital last week, up from 10,000 in the first week of December 2021.
Seven out of 10 consultations in England were met in October.
In the early days of the pandemic the rate dropped to as low as four in 10, as Britons were told to stay at home to limit the spread of the virus.
Despite seeing 80 percent of patients in person pre-Covid, top doctors suggest the figure will never return to this level.
Across England, there were 31.9 million appointments in general practice in October – up 13 per cent on the previous month.
Officials asked GPs, who earn an average of £110,000, to see more patients to increase access, reduce the risk of missed diagnoses and tackle inequality across the country – with some areas continuing to pay much higher rates than virtual appointments. Other.
Former Health Secretary Sajid Javid said last October that he was ‘determined to ensure patients can see their GP whenever they want, wherever they live’. He asked the NHS to release practice-level GP appointment data to ‘increase transparency and accountability’ — as the data was only published nationally.
The first set of local-level data shows that while seven in 10 GP appointments nationally are in-person, only 12 per cent of appointments are in-person at the worst-performing practice – Quay Health Solutions GP Care Home Service in South East London.
This figure is slightly higher and the next-worst offenders are Hounslow, Bath Road Surgery in West London (12.6 per cent) and Cell Special Allocation Practice in Bromley.
And less than half of appointments in one in 10 practices in England are in person.
Meanwhile, national data showed that just 44 per cent of appointments in October were with a GP – the lowest proportion since records began in 2018. Most appointments were with other practice staff, such as a nurse, health visitor or physiotherapist.
Almost none of the 2,500 appointments at the Addingham surgery in Ilkley, North West Yorkshire, were with a GP – the lowest rate in the country.
The picture was not much better at the Raj Medical Center in Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire (0.5 per cent) and Ashville Surgery in Manchester (1 per cent).
Some appointments do not require a GP stay, with other highly-trained practice staff often able to diagnose conditions and prescribe medication.
However, only GPs can sign sick certificates and treat sick pregnant women and children under the age of two.
Meanwhile, sick Britons face the longest wait for an appointment in at least two-and-a-half years, with just four in 10 (38.9 per cent) opening their local practice on the same day. One in five (19.6 per cent) were forced to wait more than two weeks – another high.
No patients were seen on the same day at the top Inns surgery in Wigan, Greater Manchester, while just 3.7 per cent of patients at Dr Clay SN & Partners in Erdington, Birmingham received a same-day appointment.
The data also shows that 1.8 million appointments (5.6 per cent) were missed across England last month – the highest rate ever.
The NHS notes that the local figures are experimental data — and the figures may contain some reporting errors.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: ‘We promised to prioritize patients and improve access and that’s exactly what we’ve done – and this is just the beginning.
‘I’m determined to make it easier for people to get an appointment with their GP practice when they need one and this will allow patients to make more informed choices about the care they receive.’
Minister of State for Health Neil O’Brien said: ‘This is about making sure patients can make real choices about where they get their care.
More than 90 per cent of a patient’s direct experience of the NHS is through primary care and their GP practice so appointments are available when needed.
‘This Government reiterated its commitment to the NHS in the Autumn Statement and improving access to data is just the start.’
Dr Kieron Sharrock, deputy chair for England of the British Medical Association’s General Practitioners Committee, said face-to-face appointments were increasing but GPs were continuing to offer remote consultations to ensure patients could still get the care they needed. as they see fit’.
‘Month by month, GPs and their teams are doing their best to spread the workload safely, with many practice-based offering appointments with other staff such as paramedics or nurses,’ he said.
The inconsistency in GP performance across England is impossible to explain but there are factors at play in each practice, including patient preferences, population size and age, he said.
With more than 6,000 practices in England, ‘there will obviously be some differences in how they operate and how staff care for their local community’, Dr Sharrock said.
He added: ‘None of these nuances are taken into account in today’s data and rather than being a useful tool to aid patient choice, it is really nothing more than a way to exercise “name and shame” when dedicated staff morale is at rock bottom.
‘Ultimately, such data should be used to support, not punish, practice.
‘If the government was serious about improving access to general practice it would address the huge shortage of doctors, rather than the ones we already have more pressure and expectation on and so desperately need to hang on to.’
Dr Sharrock said GPs must be prepared to support industrial action if the government does not reduce its bureaucracy and increase flexibility during contract negotiations next year.
He urges doctors to see only 25 to 30 patients per day. BMA surveys suggest that some family doctors see 90 patients a day, compared to 25 which the union says is a safe limit.
Speaking at the Local Medical Committees England conference in London today, he said: ‘We need activists in every LMC who can build support and understanding of industrial action, so that we can shine a light at the end of the tunnel.’
This comes as separate health service data published today shows there are 36,854 GPs working in the NHS – 1.5 per cent more than a year ago and 6.1 per cent more than three years ago.
However, unions have warned that half of family doctors plan to quit within the next five years. And about 60 percent of the workforce works just three days a week.