NHS delivers on promise of 50 million more GP appointments

Data published today by NHS England shows that for the year to October 2023, there were 50.9 million additional general practice appointments delivered when compared to October 2019, meeting a key government commitment set out in 2019.

The announcement comes as separate data also published today shows compared to September 2019, there are over 50,000 additional nurses working in the NHS. This meets another of the government's targets.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Victoria Atkins, said:

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."

In the 12 months to October 2023, 358 million general practice appointments, including Covid-19 vaccinations, were delivered - this is an increase of 50.9 million compared to 2019, meaning we have delivered on our manifesto commitment for 50 million more appointments a year. This is equivalent to 44 more appointments per practice per working day, with over 70% of these taking place within two weeks of booking.

Health Minister, Andrea Leadsom, said:

Today's figures, published by NHS England, clearly demonstrate that more people are getting the care they need, when they need it.

Thank you so much to GPs and primary care teams up and down the country for their tireless work to care for patients which saw around 32,500 more appointments delivered every day.

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."

Today's announcement builds on data from earlier this month which showed that there were over 34,000 additional direct patient care staff working in general practice - exceeding the government's commitment to recruit an additional 26,000 primary care staff which was met one year early and are helping to cut waiting lists.

Earlier this year, the government published its Primary Care Recovery Plan focused on improving access to primary care. Providing practices in England with £240 million, it supported them to embrace the latest technology to tackle the 8am rush, reduce the number of people struggling to contact their general practice and ensure patients know how their query will be handled.

As of August 2023, more than 1,000 general practices had signed up to digital upgrades - giving them the latest digital technology designed to make booking general practice appointments easier.

Following the pandemic the government is investing up to £645million and is working with NHS England and the pharmaceutical sector on the best way to support primary care.

This includes ensuring patients who need prescription medication for seven common conditions can receive it without the need for a GP appointment and is estimated to free up around 15 million appointments over the next two years for patients who need them most.

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