More accurate general practice appointment data – guidance

During 2020-21, many improvements are planned to improve the quality of general practice appointment data (GPAD). To ensure all appointments are being recorded in general practice appointment books, and to fully capture the scale of work and workload in general practice, this document introduces an agreed definition of an appointment, and asks general practice to start applying this now and systematically, as an important first step to improve data quality.

Further technical system specific advice and guidance will be issued during the year to support practices with configuring appointment books and applying a set of new, standardised national categories for appointment types. NHS England will work collaboratively with the BMA General Practitioners’ Committee at each stage of the development of additional guidance.

What is GPAD ?

NHS Digital has been collecting data from general practice appointment systems and publishing it, collated by place area, since 2018.

This published data provides a picture of general practice appointments. It includes details such as the number of appointments, the healthcare professional carrying them out, and where possible, the mode of delivery, e.g. face to face, or telephone.

Why is improvement needed now?

During the COVID-19 emergency, practices have had to rapidly change their working patterns. This has highlighted that not all clinical interactions with patients are recorded in the appointment book.

This may result in an under-recording of the activity taking place in practices. In turn that may lead to under-reporting in the NHS Digital GPAD data publication. This is potentially giving a false picture of overall activity and workload in general practice. It is in all our interests to capture accurately the full scale of scale of activity that general practice is providing for patients.

Next page: Why practices should engage

This guidance is a joint commitment between NHS England and the British Medical Association.
This guidance is also available to download as PDF.
Publishing Approval Reference: 001559