General practice teams in Kent and Medway have carried out nearly 700,000 appointments in August, according to the latest national NHS data released yesterday (30 September).
Face-to-face consultations accounted for 373,424 of all appointments - equivalent to nearly 20% of the Kent and Medway population being seen face-to-face by a member of their GP team in this month alone. A further 302,939 telephone and video appointments also took place.
The role of the wider teams working alongside GPs was also clear in the statistics as 344,500 of all appointments were with other clinically trained staff, for example advanced nurse practitioners and pharmacists.
Dr Navin Kumta, Clinical Chair of Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group said “These figures demonstrate clearly how hard our general practice teams continue to work in the face of unprecedented demand. We know that getting through on the phone can be difficult at the moment; and we understand the frustrations this causes. We want to assure you that we are working hard to make sure that everyone is seen in the best way for them.
“One concerning note is the number of patients who missed a booked appointment. Over 32,000 appointment slots were booked for patients who didn’t arrive for them. These slots are incredibly precious, and we would ask anyone who no longer needs their appointment to cancel in advance. In many practices you can cancel appointments by text or online, so there’s no need to phone.”
Dr Gaurav Gupta, Chair of Local Medical Committee (LMC) said: “General practice teams have been working throughout the pandemic. GPs and their teams have also been involved in vaccinating more than one million patients in Kent and Medway which has allowed us to emerge from lockdowns.
“We are extremely concerned regarding the reports of high levels of abuse, and in some cases violence, experienced by practice teams. There is no place for such behaviour in our society and the NHS will enforce a zero-tolerance policy towards any abuse. I would like to thank GPs and practice teams for all their hard work in these difficult times.”
Dr Kumta, added: “We do understand that the current pressures raise frustration levels, but we would also make a plea for everyone to recognise that general practice teams are working hard both to see patients and make improvements to ease the pressures.”
Find out how Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group is working with general practice to improve access to meet the increased demand here.