Five million more GP appointments delivered in February than before pandemic

GP teams delivered over 30 million appointments for patients last month (February 2024), up almost a quarter on the same period pre-pandemic, as part of the NHS primary care access recovery plan.  

New NHS data published today shows there were 30.5 million appointments (excluding Covid vaccinations) delivered by GPs and their teams in February 2024, compared with 24.7 million in February 2020 – an increase of 5.8 million (23.4%).  

Almost seven in ten appointments took place within 7 days of booking, while two thirds of appointments took place face-to-face. 

The NHS promised 50 million more appointments by March 2024 compared to 2018/19, and the figures show that GPs and their teams have delivered an extra 57.5 million appointments (excluding Covid vaccinations) over the last year compared to 2018/19 – significantly above and ahead of the target. 

GPs delivered 364.8 million appointments excluding Covid vaccinations over the last twelve months (March 2023 – February 2024). 

Dr Amanda Doyle, National Director for Primary Care and Community Services at NHS England, said:

“The NHS is meeting its targets, with hard working GPs and their teams making tremendous progress across the country. But we know there is more to do – that’s why the NHS is implementing the major plan we announced last year to improve access to GP services, which includes upgrading telephone systems to make it easier for patients to contact their surgery, and we’ve boosted the workforce with an additional 36,000 staff joining GP teams since 2019, all helping to deliver even more appointments.” 

Primary Care Minister Andrea Leadsom said:

“We are determined to make our healthcare system faster, simpler and fairer for all patients, and this data shows that through the incredible work of GPs and their teams, we are now delivering significantly more appointments per working day compared to the same time last year.

“We are committed to ensuring that everyone who needs an appointment is able to get one, and our primary care recovery plan demonstrates how we will deliver for all patients who use our fantastic NHS.

“Our goals are clear, and we have already delivered on a number of pledges – including exceeding our target of 50 million additional general practice appointments per year, several months ahead of schedule.”

The NHS primary care access recovery plan also gives people more choice in how they access care, with more than 10,000 pharmacies now treating people for 7 common conditions including sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women over the age of 65.   

The action is expected to free up to 10 million GP appointments a year and, with 80% of people in England living within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy, the move will give the public more choice in where and how they access care.