The definitive guide to England’s 6,000 GP practices: From number of patients and doctors to how many appointments are face-to-face (as well as what patients REALLY think)… so how does your surgery fare?

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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How exactly does your local GP practice rank out of the 6,000-plus in England?

Today you can finally find out.

Use the interactive Mail+ GP finder below to find out how your practice ranks for availability of face-to-face appointments, same-day access and how many consultations are carried out by doctors.

On top of that, it compares list sizes to show how many patients you’re competing with to secure an appointment and whether it employs more receptionists than family doctors.

WHERE ARE THE MOST UNDERSTAFFED GPs IN BRITIAN? 

Mail+ has also analysed the data to find the practices that are most overwhelmed and have the lowest ratio of doctors to patients.

To do so, we compared the numbers of full-time-equivalent (FTE) GPs at each practice in England against the number of patients registered there.

Comparing FTE rates is considered a more accurate measure compared with a simple headcount, given that swathes of doctors only work part-time.

Of practices with at least one FTE, Matrix Medical Practice in Chatham, Kent had the lowest ratio of medics to patients (one per 16,550).

Dewey Practice in North East London has the smallest patient-doctor ration in England

Dewey Practice in North East London has the smallest patient-doctor ration in England

Matrix Medical Practice in Kent and Medway has the biggest patient-doctor ration in England

Matrix Medical Practice in Kent and Medway has the biggest patient-doctor ration in England

 

This was followed by Wembley’s GP Pathfinder Clinics (one per 16,486) and Blackfriars Medical Practice in Salford (one GP per 14,715).

When assessing areas with fewer than one FTE family doctor, the ratio was as high as 82,000 for St Peter’s Medical Centre in Leicestershire. It, according to NHS Digital statistics for November, recorded only 0.08 FTE GPs working there for its 6,597 patients.

Health chiefs consider any ratio above 1,800 to be unsafe because GPs may feel rushed or overworked due to their patient case load, increasing the risk of missing early signs of serious illness.

The Mail found 52 per cent of practices were above the safe threshold.

On the other end of the scale, Westbourne Medical Practice in north-west London seemingly had the best ratio in the country, with one GP for every six patients.

However, this is likely to be a data error as the GP practice closed in April last year following the death of its lead practitioner.

When it comes to open practices, Dewey Practice in north-east London had the best ratio, logging one doctor for every 78 patients.

FACE TO FACE APPOINTMENTS 

One continual battle Britons have faced since the pandemic is seeing their GP face-to-face.

While more convenient for the GP, and occasionally a patient, some experts have raised concerns about the drop in in-person consultations. In 2021 a coroner warned that remote GP appointments may have contributed to the deaths of five people.

Pre-pandemic, around 80 per cent of appointments were carried out in-person. This has since fallen to around 68 per cent.

The GP surgeries in England with where 100% of appointments are face-to-face

The GP surgeries in England with where 100% of appointments are face-to-face

The GP surgeries in England offering the fewest face-to-face appoiintments

The GP surgeries in England offering the fewest face-to-face appoiintments

Our analysis, based on self-reported practice data, shows some individual surgeries fell far below this level.

At Hall Grove Group Practice in Hertfordshire, only 31 of its 7,062 appointments in November were recorded as being held in-person, about 0.4 per cent, with the vast majority of the others listed as ‘unknown’.

Kennedy Way Surgery in Bristol was another low performer, with only 47 of its 4,991 appointments (0.9 per cent) confirmed as being held face-to-face.

Meanwhile, GPs at Studholme Medical Centre in Middlesex only saw 1.8 per cent of their patients face-to-face in November, with the remaining being ‘unknown’.

SAME DAY APPOINTMENTS

Access to same-day appointments is another indicator of how good a GP practice is for patients.

Chartwell Green Surgery in Southampton was the worst offender, with its 3.8 FTE GPs apparently unable to provide same-day appointments in November.

The practices in England offering the most same day appointments

The practices in England offering the most same day appointments

Medicus Select Care in London offers the fewest same day appointment in England

Medicus Select Care in London offers the fewest same day appointment in England

Medicus Select Care in Enfield, north London, was another that struggled, with only 2.9 per cent of its appointments held this way.

But at some practices seeing a GP in any kind of appointment can be the challenge.

Many surgeries employ other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, dietitians and physiotherapists.

At Cordwallis Road Surgery in Berkshire, zero of its 2,268 appointments in November were recorded as being held with an actual GP, according to the same self-reported NHS data. This is despite the practice having 1.8 FTE doctors on its books.

Parkside Medical Centre in Milton Keynes was another low performer, with just 2.5 per cent of its 4,700 plus appointments held with a GP.

Our analysis found fewer than half of practices (44 per cent) had 50 per cent of consultations carried out by a family doctor.

MORE RECEPTIONISTS THAN DOCTORS 

Separately, our audit found GPs were outnumbered by admin staff such as receptionists at a rate of 20-to-one at one practice.

Matrix Medical Practice, already mentioned as one of the GPs with the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in England, has almost 24 FTE admin staff on its books.

Similarly, high rates were seen at JS Medical Practice in north-central London (14 admin staff for every FTE GP) and East Lynne Medical Centre in Clacton-on-Sea in Essex (12.8 admin staff for every FTE GP).

Only 452 GP practices in England (7 per cent) had a one-to-one ratio of admin staff to family doctors or employed more medics than receptionists.

We also analysed the NHS’s annual GP patient survey for 2023, which had 759,000 patients at primary care services rate various aspects of care they receive.

Another branch of Medicus Select Care, this time in the London borough of Islington, received the lowest overall rating in England, with only 11 per cent of patients considering it ‘good’.

It was followed by Green Porch Medical Partnership in Sittingbourne, Kent (17 per cent) and Compass Medical Practice, a specialist primary care service which treats people who have been removed from other GP patient lists in the Lancashire region (19 per cent).

In total, only 9 primary care services in England achieved a perfect 100 per cent score.

PHONE LINES 

As part of the same survey, patients were also asked to rank specific aspects of how they access GP services, including ease of reaching their GP on the telephone.

Patients have repeatedly lamented the ‘Glastonbury-esque’ morning rush to call their family doctor in a desperate bid to secure an appointment before phone lines become overwhelmed.

While overall 50 per cent of Britons said it was ‘easy’ to get through to their GP on the phone, some rated their practice’s performance as far lower.

A whopping 97 per cent of patients at Lakeside Healthcare Stamford in Lincolnshire and Dashwood Medical Centre in Ramsgate, Kent said it was difficult to get through to their GP via the phone.

Only 21 primary care services in England had 100 per cent of patients surveyed rate the telephone access to their GP as ‘easy’.

Medicus Select Care’s Islington practice was also rated by patients as having the least helpful receptionists, with 78 per cent dissatisfied.

While 71 per cent of patients rated their GP survey as good, this is the lowest proportion since the survey began in 2017 — when 85 per cent rated their family doctor the same.

OVERALL PATIENT CARE 

The decline in patient satisfaction comes as GP salaries continue to rise.

Family doctors, who work around three days a week, pocket six-figure salaries, on average.

The struggle to access GP appointments is a complicated issue and doctors themselves report being overwhelmed by patient demand.

Under guidelines GPs are told not deliver more than 25 appointments each day to ensure ‘safe care’. But some doctors are reportedly having to cram in nearly 60.

Nationally, the patient-doctor ratio now stands at an average of 2,292 — up almost a fifth compared with 2015.

The result is millions of patients being rushed through appointments, in scenes that have been compared to being ‘goods on a factory conveyor belt’.

Struggles to get an appointment have also been linked to a rise in A&E attendances .

Despite the pressures faced in primary care, ministers have silently binned a promise to hire 6,000 more GPs, a major part of Boris Johnson‘s election-winning manifesto.

The latest data shows the number of fully qualified FTE GPs working in England stands at 27,483, as of November last year.

While this a growth of 0.3 per cent year-on-year, it is 400 fewer GPs than the figure for November 2021.

Analysts have previously stated they believe another 7,400 family doctors are needed to plug gaps in primary care.

Worsening the staffing crisis is the fact that many GPs are retiring in their 50s, moving abroad or leaving to work in the private sector because of soaring demand, NHS paperwork, and what they see as aggressive media coverage.

This exodus risks exacerbating issues as the remaining family doctors have to take on more and more work, risking burnout.

The data the Mail examined was collected between January and November 2023, depending on the report, and represents the latest comparable figures available.

NHS Digital classifies much of this data as ‘experimental’, a designation meaning it is still undergoing evaluation for quality. As GP practices record the data themselves before it is sent to the NHS for collation, this can mean errors can occur which can influence the results.

SOURCE

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