There are over 50,000 additional nurses working in the NHS, compared to September 2019
NHS England delivered 358 million general practice (GP) appointments, including Covid-19 vaccinations, in the 12 months to October 2023, an increase of 50.9 million compared to October 2019.
This equals to 44 more appointments per practice per working day, with over 70 per cent of these taking place within two weeks of booking, data published by NHSE on Thursday (30 November) showed.
Health Minister, Andrea Leadsom, thanked GPs and primary care teams across the country for making it possible to deliver around 32,500 more appointments every day, which clearly demonstrate that “more people are getting the care they need, when they need it.”
“While this is positive news, we know that there is more to do to make it easier and quicker for patients to contact their general practice and continue to focus on delivering the Primary Care Recovery Plan,” she added.
The Primary Care Recovery Plan published earlier this year is focused on improving access to primary care. It provided GPs in England with £240 million to support them to embrace the latest technology to tackle the 8am rush, and handle more appointments.
As of August 2023, more than 1,000 general practices had signed up to digital upgrades to make booking GP appointments easier.
Health Secretary, Victoria Atkins, commented: “We owe a debt of gratitude to all the staff working in general practices for their support and commitment to their patients and for achieving the target of 50 million additional appointments months ahead of schedule.
“Our Primary Care Recovery Plan is going even further with more appointments, more staff and greater support from pharmacies – backed by funding – meaning we can offer the primary care patients need,” she added.
Separate data published on the same day revealed that there are over 50,000 additional nurses working in the NHS now, compared to September 2019, and this is another target achieved by the government.
Earlier this month, the NHS announced that there were over 34,000 additional direct patient care staff working in general practice and are helping to cut waiting lists. Not only the government fulfilled its pledge to recruit 26,000 more primary care staff one year early, but exceeded the target number.
The Pharmacy First service is estimated to free up around 15 million appointments over the next two years for patients who need them most.