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Publication, Part of

Appointments in General Practice December 2019

Official statistics, Experimental statistics

Current Chapter

Appointments in General Practice: Comparing 2018 to 2019


Appointments in General Practice: Comparing 2018 to 2019

Summary

The appointments in general practice publication has been released each month since December 2018. It aims to inform users about activity and usage of GP appointments historically and how primary care is impacted by seasonal pressures, such as winter. In January 2020 data for two full calendar years was available for the first time. However, when comparing trends over time it is important to consider what variables could affect the number of appointments recorded each month.

Data for 95.6% of practices in England is currently included the publication therefore the total number of appointments is not known. An estimate of the total number appointments in England has been provided. Please see the accompanying methodology document for details on how this estimate is calculated.

This report will mainly focus on appointments occurring on a Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays. Appointments do also take place on weekends and bank holidays however the volumes are small.


Number of Weekdays (excluding bank holidays) per Month

The number of weekdays (Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays) within a given month has an impact on the volumes of appointments recorded. Figure 1 shows the total estimated number of appointments per month from January 2018 to December 2019. Figure 2 shows the number of weekdays for the same period.

As an example of the above, in 2019 on average there are an estimated 1.22 million appointments per weekday (excluding bank holidays). In July 2018 there were an estimated 25,070,000 appointments compared to 26,990,000 estimated for July 2019. However, there was also an additional weekday in July 2019. The difference between the estimates for these months is 1,920,000, however the additional weekday day in July 2019 accounts for over 1 million of these appointments.

By dividing the total number of estimated appointments that occurred on a weekday (excluding bank holidays) by the number of weekdays each month, an estimated number of appointments per weekday can be calculated. Figure 3 shows how this varies by month in 2018 and 2019.


Number of Appointments by Day of the Week

In 2019, there were an estimated 1.22 million appointments per weekday (Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays). This represents an estimated increase of 20,000 appointments per weekday compared to 2018 (1.20 million). These estimates do not account for weekend appointments. For more details on how the estimated number of appointments is calculated, see the accompanying methodology document.

The estimated number of appointments per day varies depending on the day of the week. Figure 4 shows the mean estimated number of appointments taking place on each weekday (excluding bank holidays) in 2018 and 2019.

The weekday with the highest mean estimated number of appointments was Monday in both 2018 (1.35 million) and 2019 (1.37 million). As the week progresses, the mean estimated number of appointments decrease until Friday, which has the lowest mean estimated number of appointments in both 2018 (1.13 million) and 2019 (1.14 million).

For every day except Tuesday, the mean estimated number of appointments was higher in 2019 than 2018.

As well as varying between 2018 and 2019, the estimated number of appointments taking place on each weekday also varies by month. Table 1 shows the mean estimated number of appointments (in millions) taking place on each weekday (excluding bank holidays), by month, in 2019.

Each weekday has variation between every month in 2019. For example, whilst the mean estimated number of appointments per Monday in 2019 was 1.37 million, this varies from 1.23 million in August to 1.45 million in November. Friday saw a similar variation between 1.03 million in August and 1.21 million in October, whilst the mean estimated number of appointments for Fridays in 2019 was 1.14 million.

Table 1: Mean estimated number of appointments (millions) taking place on each weekday (excluding bank holidays), by month, in 2019

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
January 1.39 1.31 1.20 1.20 1.21
February 1.41 1.28 1.19 1.17 1.16
March 1.42 1.27 1.19 1.17 1.18
April 1.36 1.26 1.16 1.14

1.14

May 1.38 1.28 1.17 1.15

1.14

June 1.35 1.21 1.13 1.11 1.10
July 1.31 1.20 1.12 1.10 1.08
August 1.23 1.17 1.09 1.07 1.03
September 1.36 1.23 1.15 1.15 1.14
October 1.43 1.33 1.25 1.21 1.21
November 1.45 1.33 1.24 1.22 1.19
December 1.34 1.13 1.21 1.19 1.10

Full details on how these figures are calculated and equivalent data for 2018 can be found in the methodology document. Detailed guidance on the appointments in general practice publication and limitations of the data can be found on the supporting information page here.

It is hoped that this report supports users in understanding how to interpret appointments in general practice data when comparing changes over time. NHS Digital are looking to further develop this methodology in order to be able to directly compare appointments data across specific time periods that will fully account for changes in coverage.  We welcome feedback from users as to how to develop the publication further, which can be provided using this link.


Methodology Document

A document showing the methodology for all calculations included in this report, as well 2018 data for table 1.



Last edited: 9 June 2021 6:54 am