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Face-to-face GP appointments fall despite plea to ‘restore routine service’

Face-to-face GP appointments have continued to fall, despite a rallying cry for doctors to restore normal services.

The proportion of GP appointments held in person fell for the third month in a row to 60.3% in January, latest data show.

Data published by NHS Digital on Thursday show about 25.6 million appointments were carried out in January. Of these, some 15.4 million were face-to-face. The last time it fell below this level was August 2021, when just 57.6% of appointments were face-to-face. 

Pre-pandemic, the proportion of GP appointments held in person was about 80%.

Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England’s medical director of primary care, told doctors last month to “restore routine service” following the successful rollout of the booster jab campaign.

Writing to GPs, she said: “It is now important that all services across the NHS, including in primary care, are able to restore routine services where these were paused in line with the Prime Minister’s request to focus all available resource on the omicron national mission.”

But patient groups say the “situation hasn’t improved” and patients are still struggling to see their doctor in person.

Dennis Reed, from patient group Silver Voices, said the figures were “worrying” but not surprising.

“I'm still getting complaints on a daily basis that people are struggling to see their GP,” he said.

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Source: The Telegraph, 24 February 2022


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