General practice should record all appointments in their appointment book

What constitutes an actual appointment is not as well defined and well understood as it could be by all the different health and care professionals involved in providing general practice. To ensure consistency in counting actual appointments, the following definition has been agreed: “discrete interactions between a health or care professional and a patient, or a patient’s representative”

This definition excludes:

  • Purely administrative interactions between practice staff and patients e.g. practice manager meeting a patient to complete a subject access request or a receptionist answering a query about opening hours.
  • Non clinical triage or administrative signposting.
  • Online requests that do not result in an interaction between the patient and a health or care professional, for example automated online triage.
  • Work undertaken by a health or care professional that doesn’t involve patient contact e.g. multi-disciplinary team meetings, case conferences, palliative care list reviews, referral letters, writing repeat prescriptions, reviewing results.
  • All clinical administration activity including audit, training, supervision.
  • Interactions with patient participation reference groups.

This guidance reconfirms that the definition of an appointment includes:

  1. All relevant staff. Discrete interactions carried out by any health or care professional, including all roles in the Additional Roles and Reimbursement Scheme (see detail on next page).
  2. All modes. Discrete interactions that are delivered by all modes – face-to-face, by telephone, via video and online.
  3. All settings. Discrete interactions in any primary medical care setting (including the practice, patient’s home, community, care home, group consultations, local GP extended access hub*).

As has always been the case, Did Not Attend (DNA) appointments should continue to be recorded

*Work is continuing to ensure activity in extended access hubs can be accurately recorded and identified in the collection.


Next page: General practice should record appointments conducted by all health and care professionals