- Only 52 per cent of GPs in England in July had a consultation with a doctor
- But in some areas, patients are seen by other staff in about two-thirds of cases.
- And in others – such as South Sefton – patients see a GP about 70% of the time.
Official figures show that just half of GP appointments in England are with a qualified doctor.
A total of 52 percent of consultations in July were with actual GPs, with the rest by nurses, pharmacy assistants and even acupuncturists.
NHS digital data shows that in some parts of the country, patients are given two-thirds of the time they visit with someone other than a GP.
Defending the figures, the Royal College of GPs claimed that the family doctor was not always the most appropriate person to see patients.
But campaigners claimed they fear patients are being diverted to take some pressure off of GPs’ workloads.
It comes amid a growing row over a lack of face-to-face GP appointments, which are still below pre-pandemic levels.
Ministers have threatened to name and shame the worst-performing surgeries unless they start seeing more patients in person.
The parents of 26-year-old David Nash, a late student, claimed that their son missed meningitis due to a lack of individual counseling. He believes he would have lived if he had seen a GP face to face.
NHS digital data shows in Bury, Greater Manchester, patients saw just a third (36 per cent) of the doctor in July. Patients in North East Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire were placed through another staff member two-thirds of the time. Doctors in North East Essex, Portsmouth, Kirklees, Bradford and Craven in North Yorkshire saw patients in less than 40 percent of their appointments.
A total of 52 percent of consultations in July were with an actual doctor, with the rest by other healthcare workers, such as nurses, pharmacy assistants and even acupuncturists.
NHS figures show that just 51.9 per cent of appointments in July were with GPs, the lowest since the second wave last December.
In Bury, Greater Manchester, patients saw only a third (36 percent) of the doctor in July.
Patients in North East Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire were placed through another staff member two-thirds of the time.
Doctors in North East Essex, Portsmouth, Kirklees, Bradford and Craven in North Yorkshire saw patients in less than 40 percent of their appointments.
But rates were slightly higher in other parts of the country.
In South Sefton, Hertfordshire and South West London, up to 67 per cent of all GP consultations were with actual doctors.
And six out of 10 appointments were with doctors in South East London, Manchester, North East London and Frimley.
RCGP President Professor Martin Marshall said GPs are not always the best person to treat a patient.
The NHS digitally lists acupuncturists, osteopaths and chiropodists as well as health visitors and counselors as non-GP health workers seeing patients.
NHS Digital noted that the figures are ‘experimental’ and that there are problems with the quality of the data, such as the medicine present in the appointments not being recorded in three per cent of cases.
Professor Marshall told Times General practice is a team of different professions and ‘sometimes a GP is not the most appropriate healthcare professional for a patient’s health needs’.
This comes after figures revealed earlier this month that there is one GP for every 2,038 patients in England. This figure has increased by five percent over the past six years and in some areas each doctor has about 3,000 patients.
Dennis Reid, head of campaign group Silver Voices, told the newspaper that there would be ‘a great temptation, or need,’ to allocate appointments to the lower level in areas with high patient-to-doctor ratios.
He said: ‘In one area, if it is a GP appointment found appropriate and for the same situation a GP appointment in another region is found not to be appropriate, there is something wrong.’
An NHS spokesman said: ‘Every GP practice should provide face-to-face as well as telephone and online appointments and continuing to offer all these methods of consultation is part of making primary care as accessible as possible.
‘Other health care professionals in the practice team, such as nurses, physiotherapists, and paramedics are sometimes more qualified to help people with specific needs, providing a range of services such as screening tests, routine vaccinations, and care for people with long-term needs. Support a wide range of people. Conditions.’
David Nash (pictured), 26, had four remote consultations with doctors and nurses at a Leeds GP practice over a period of 19 days before dying of meningitis on November 4, 2020.
The number of face-to-face GP appointments declined at the start of the pandemic when surgeries were asked to remotely see patients where possible. But despite normalcy at large in the country, in-person visits have yet to climb to pre-pandemic levels. The above graph shows the number of face-to-face GP appointments (red line) from the end of 2019 to the month
Over the past decade, the average number of sessions GPs work a day has decreased while their pay increases have increased. In 2012 the average GP worked 7.3 sessions a week, but this has now fallen to 6.6 per week, which is equivalent to three days of work a week. Average GP income increased by over £6,000 over the same period. A GP’s daily work is divided into sessions. According to the NHS, a full-time GP works 8 sessions a week, composed of two sessions a day, usually starting at 8am and ending at 6.30pm, although these hours can vary .
This comes after Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced last week plans to publish figures on how many face-to-face appointments have taken place in individual GP surgeries in England.
And those who do not provide a sufficient number of in-person counseling will not be able to access…