Face-to-Face GP Appointments
Do you struggle to get face-to-face appointments with your GP? Since the COVID-19 pandemic, which made online GP appointments much more commonplace, many people have expressed their concern about not being able to see a doctor in person.
In fact, last year, figures showed that only two-thirds of GP appointments are carried out in person, compared to an estimated 80% before the pandemic.
Find out the latest laws and guidelines relating to face-to-face GP appointments below and make sure you are getting the care you are entitled to.
Why is it so difficult to get a face-to-face GP appointment?
Although the initial switch to remote consulting was predominantly to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to ensure patients are safe, this is not the main reason why GP practices are continuing to offer remote consulting.
A combination of huge volumes of patients and limited daily appointment slots has made it almost impossible for surgeries to accommodate face-to-face appointments for everyone.
Do I have a right to a face-to-face appointment with my GP?
According to new NHS guidance, practices in England must offer face-to-face appointments if requested. GPs who fail to make the necessary arrangements for patients to make an appointment without having to spend hours on the phone or who are not available for face-to-face appointments are, in the strictest terms, breaking the law.
You can find out more information about how many appointments your GP surgery is delivering and how many are face-to-face compared to how many take place remotely by accessing the GP appointment level data at practice level. This is information that has been collected for the past 5 years by NHS Digital.
What is the best way to get a GP appointment?
Rather than spending hours on the phone trying to get through to the reception at your local GP surgery, it is much quicker and easier to use an online form. Some practices have them available on your GP surgery’s website, or you may be able to access them via the NHS app.
Although there are quite a few questions to answer on these forms, this is generally a much faster way to access the GP services that you need rather than booking an appointment over the phone. These online forms are secure and confidential and can be used to contact your general practice about your own health or someone else’s – your loved ones in care homes needing health care services don’t need to add the stress of using online methods like this on top of their health conditions, so take care of this for them. If you or your loved one don’t mind having an online appointment, this is generally much quicker to get sorted, and you can easily get one with NHS GP clinics. If you need help booking an online appointment with your GP, please contact us here, and we will do our best to help you get the healthcare advice you need.
What are the new rules for GP appointments?
A new NHS contract that came into force in April 2023 means that GP staff have to let patients book consultations in advance or refer them to other services, such as a pharmacist, rather than tell them to call back later or the next day. Practices across England will be given £240 million this year to pay for new technologies that are designed to ensure patients get given the care they need as quickly as possible.
Currently, guidelines state that if a patient requires emergency care, they should be given an appointment on the same day. If it is not, appointments, either face-to-face or via a video call, should be offered within 2 weeks. Alternatively, patients should be referred to NHS 111 or a local pharmacy.
What do you say when booking a GP appointment?
When booking a GP appointment, your surgery will ask you for personal details such as your name, address, and date of birth. They should also ask you about your preferred mode of appointment, such as a telephone or video call or a face-to-face appointment. They may also ask you what the appointment is for, but you are not required to give out this information if you do not want to.