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Trends in Consultation Rates in General Practice - 1995-2006Official statistics
- Publication Date:
- 31 Jul 2007
- Geographic Coverage:
- United Kingdom
- Geographical Granularity:
- Country, Government Office Regions
- Date Range:
- 01 Jan 1995 to 31 Dec 2006
This paper presents the results of a report commissioned by The Information Centre on behalf of the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Department of Health (DH) using QResearch methodology.
Both the Department of Health and the Office of National Statistics have adopted the QRESEARCH methodology for estimating primary care consultations in their respective output and productivity calculations. By using actual data from 4m patients the QRESEARCH methodology is seen as more representative of GP consultations than survey data from the previously used General Household Survey. DH first used the data in its 2005/6 cost efficiency estimate to measure progress against its value for money Public Service Agreement (PSA) target. ONS first used the new data in Blue Book 2007 which presents data on UK national accounts.
Complete data were available for 100 practices (846,000 patients) in 1995 and for 464 practices (3.9 million registered patients) in 2006. The mean list size per practice in QRESEARCH in 2006 was 8419.
Comparisons with the General Household Survey showed similar trends in crude rates by age and sex but the rates in QRESEARCH were lower than those from the General Household Survey. The General Household survey is a patient survey data based on recall of consultations in the last 2 weeks whereas QRESEARCH measures consultations recorded on the GP clinical computer systems.
You may also be interested in our GP Workload Survey report.
The overall crude consultation rate rose from 3.9 consultations per patient-year in 1995 to 5.3 consultations per patient-year in 2006.
Consultation rates varied markedly by age and sex. In 1995 the highest overall (all clinicians and all locations) consultation rates were 8.0 per patient-year for males aged 90 plus years and 7.1 per patient - year for females aged 85 to 89 years. In 2006, the highest overall consultation rates occurred in the age band 85 to 89 years for both sexes (males 12.9 consultations per person-year, females 12.6 consultations per person-year). Consultation rates for females tended to be higher than those for males in general although the consultations rates for the extremes of age (i.e. the very young and the very elderly) were quite similar for males and females.
In 1995, 77 per cent of consultations were undertaken by GPs, 21 per cent by nurses and 2 per cent by other clinicians. In 2006, approximately 62 per cent of consultations were undertaken by GPs, 34 per cent were undertaken by nurses and 4 per cent by other clinicians.
In 1995, 86 per cent of GP consultations were conducted in surgery premises, 3 per cent were on the telephone, 9 per cent were home visits and 2 per cent were conducted at other locations. In 2006, 84 per cent of GP consultations were conducted in surgery premises, 10 per cent were on the telephone, 4 per cent were home visits and 3 per cent were conducted at other locations.
Over the 11 calendar years 1995 to 2006, the proportion of all consultations conducted on the telephone trebled and the proportion recorded as visits halved. However, this has to be set in context since the absolute rates of both telephone and visit consultations were low compared with surgery consultations.
The number of consultations for a typical practice in England was estimated as 21,204 in 1995 and 29,446 in 2006. The estimated volume of consultations in England rose from 220.1 million (95 per cent Confidence Interval 201.3 to 238.9 million) in 1995 to 289.8 million (95 per cent Confidence Interval 280.8 to 298.9) in 2006.