Primary Care News

Significant rise in telephone appointments in general practice, NHS Digital data highlights

NHS Digital has published data this month on the number of general practice appointments held in February 2022, including the type of appointment.

Comparing the total number of appointments with data before the pandemic, it shows over 2.2 million more general practice appointments were held in February 2022 than February 2019. In February 2022 there were ‘25,326,945’ appointments, up from ‘23,077,849’ in February 2019.

The data shows a significant increase in the number of telephone appointments, comparing February 2019 and February 2022, with the data highlighting an increase of 5,605,605 additional phone appointments. For video or online appointments, the data suggests that numbers rose from 111,652 to 127,697.

Source NHS Digital

The publication of data from NHS Digital now also includes data from Babylon Health, for its GP at Hand service. NHS Digital said of the new introduction of this data: “This change adds approximately 50,000 appointments to the total appointment count each month.”

Dr Peter Short, Clinical Lead Primary & Social Care Technology, NHS Digital, introduced the appointment data by saying: “General Practice, like much of the NHS at present, is under unprecedented pressure for contact and support for patients. Data on activity has historically been collected from discrete workload surveys that are burdensome and limited in scope.

“In response to a request from the Secretary of State to support General Practice with more accurate information, NHS Digital have been working with professional representatives, system suppliers and NHS England to collect and collate data from the appointment systems held in General Practice.

“We publish the aggregate activity data across England, from practices who are already able to access individual reports from their own systems.

“This data reflects only the planned and scheduled activity recorded within the appointment systems for much of General Practice across England, but will start to contribute valuable insight into the activity at the front line.”