Three West Norfolk GP surgeries provide in-person appointments to less than 70% of patients.
That’s according to NHS Digital data released last week, which highlighted the degree to which practices are conducting in-person inquiries.
The majority in our district passed the 80% mark during October, with Great Massingham Surgery meeting patients 99.8% of the time, the most in the area.
However, at the other end of the spectrum, staff at Lynn’s Vida Healthcare (Gayton Road) made only 60.9% of their appointments in person that month.
Of 21,036 patients, 6,914 were attended by telephone, and 202 were attended via video call.
The method used to handle an additional 1,014 cases was deemed “unknown” by NHS Digital.
Both Upwell Health Center (67% of 6,533 patients) and Swaffham’s Campingland Surgery (63.7% of 6,363 patients) also failed to meet the 70% threshold for meeting patients in person.
The numbers come amid growing government and public concern about the number of patients seeing their GPs face-to-face, and national numbers have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
For the most part, however, West Norfolk doctors and residents appear to be bucking that trend.
Woottons Surgery, in North Wootton, made 2,996 of its 3,249 in-person appointments during October, a rate of 92.2%.
And of the 7,899 patients at Lynn’s Southgates Medical Center who needed a check-up during the same month, 96.5% were seen face-to-face.
All other practices in West Norfolk were in the 80-90% range, apart from The Burnhams Surgery (Burnham Market), which saw 78.7% of patients in person.
Percentage of patients seen face to face during October:
*Bridge Street Surgery (Downham): 87.7%
*Heacham group practice: 82.4%
*Watlington Medical Center: 83%
*Litcham Health Centre: 80.7%
*St. James Medical Practice (Lynn): 84.9%
*Howdale (Downham) Surgery: 81.5%
*Plowright Medical Center (Swaffham): 85.9%
*Manor Farm Medical Center (Swaffham): 85.4%
Upwell Health Center and Lynn’s Vida Healthcare have been contacted for comment.
A spokesman for NHS Norfolk and the Waveney Integrated Care Board said practices in the area are offering more appointments than ever before with a range of healthcare professionals.
“We know how important it is for people to receive immediate care from their GP in a way that is tailored to their needs,” they said.
“Helping people get the right care and support when they need it, whether it’s an in-person appointment, a phone consultation or a video call, and listening and responding to people’s needs and preferences, is something that local practices they do every day.
“The recent publication of practice-level citation data highlights some of the variations in the way patients access general practice.
“However, this is only one element of the services provided by a GP.
“There will always be variations in appointments among GPs as they will tailor their service delivery to meet the needs of their patients.
“One practice may offer more face-to-face appointments, while another provides more online and phone consultations that the data doesn’t account for.
“The data also does not take into account factors such as branch surgeries (some practices are comprised of multiple branch surgeries whose data is not captured here), differences in patient list sizes, skill combinations available in each practice or the reasons for the appointments.
“Therefore, these data should not be used to draw conclusions about the quality of practice or patient care.
“The overall increase in dating activity we’re seeing is driven by practices that provide mixed models of care through different types of appointments, including face-to-face, phone, and online, with the increase in online access being online with NHS Digital’s Digital First Primary Care programme.
“Many practices are also operating a triage system to ensure that patients are seen by the right health care professional and according to their needs.
“In addition to increasing the number of appointments offered by GPs, progress has also been made to increase access to primary care services through the introduction of specialist roles, including physiotherapists, mental health professionals, social prescribers and pharmacists to treat patients.
“These different roles are helping to improve patient access to care and provide flexibility for patients to agree on the type of care they want to receive and reduce wait times.”