Sharp rise in South Tyneside GP appointments
GP practices in South Tyneside saw a sharp spike in activity during March – with thousands more appointments recorded than the previous month.
NHS Digital data shows doctors carried out 66,546 appointments at surgeries in the South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group area in March – 13,332 more than in February and 7,729 more the same month last year.
Demand soared at GP practices nationally, with every CCG area recording a significant rise in activity and 28.4 million appointments – the highest monthly figure since October 2019.
NHS Digital estimate around 1.2 million of the bookings were related to Covid-19 vaccinations.
Doctors' groups have warned that GPs could be hit by "unsustainable" workloads as they juggle a rising appointment numbers with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.
Dr Ellen Welch, of the Doctors’ Association UK, said: “These figures confirm what GPs have been trying to communicate for the last year – GP practices never closed and are in fact busier than ever."
Despite this, she added, the group was still hearing reports that patients finding it harder to get care.
A recent survey by patients’ group Healthwatch England found many people were struggling to access GP care and also raised concerns that a rise in remote appointments during the pandemic was not meeting everyone’s needs.
In South Tyneside, 54% of appointments were carried out face to face in March.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “To help expand GP capacity, we have made available an additional £270m in extra funding to ensure GPs are able to continue to support all patients.”