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Practices delivering more appointments than can be ‘safely’ delivered, BMA warns

by Jess Hacker
25 February 2022

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Practices are offering more appointments ‘than they can safely accommodate’, the BMA has said, claiming that the current way of working is ‘unsafe’.

The comments come in response to the latest GP appointments data, which indicated practices delivered 25.7 million standard appointments last month, excluding Covid vaccines.

And of those appointments, 46.7% took place on the same day they were booked: the highest proportion seen since August 2020 (50%).

The BMA said the figures ‘continue to highlight the ever-increasing demand on GPs and their teams’, as they ‘go above and beyond’ for their patients.

Dr Kieran Sharrock, BMA England GP committee deputy chair, said: ‘GPs are working harder than ever with a finite number of resources.

‘As well as delivering routine appointments, we are still caring for those with Covid, supporting the vulnerable, and working through the enormous backlog of care that’s built up during the pandemic.’

However, practice staff are at ‘serious risk’ of burnout, with demand unlikely to diminish and a significant number of GPs considering leaving the profession, he said.

Limited staff availability affects what activity can be delivered, he said, adding that ‘this way of working is unsafe’ for staff and patients.

He said that ‘GPs and their teams are shoring up more appointments than they can safely accommodate’, meaning the waiting list will ‘only keep growing’.

Practices would benefit from ‘thorough guidance’ on how to manage Covid in their communities going forward, he said.

It comes as the Government lifts Covid restrictions in England, with practices still left unclear on whether free testing will remain in place for staff.