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About this tracker

  • General practice in England is under major strain with rising numbers of appointments but falling numbers of full-time equivalent, fully qualified permanent GPs.
  • This page tracks key data on staff and appointments to help understand these challenges. It is updated on a quarterly basis.
  • It includes trends in the volume of appointments, whether or not they were face to face and changes in the number of GPs and other practice staff.
  • We also provide important context for the data, including what it can and cannot tell us about access to general practice. These data have limitations and should be interpreted with caution. 

Appointments in general practice

Number of appointments

Figure 1

There were 32.5 million appointments in general practice in January 2024. This compares with 29.5 million in January 2023 and 27.8 million before the pandemic in January 2019. These totals do not include COVID-19 vaccination appointments. 

New data are now available that capture more of the appointments general practice delivers as part of Primary Care Networks (PCNs). While these data don’t yet capture all PCN appointments, including the additional PCN appointments that are captured gives 33.5 million appointments in general practice in January 2024.1 

October 2023 holds the record for the largest number of appointments at 38.2 million (including COVID-19 vaccination and PCN appointments). 

Around half of total appointments in general practice are provided by GPs and half by other patient care staff, including nurses.

Mode of appointments

Figure 2

The percentage of face-to-face appiointments fell to 47% during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020 in response to national NHS and government guidance. Since then, it has broadly risen over time. Between November 2023 and January 2024, 67% of all appointments in general practice were face to face. In January 2024, 60% of appointments with a GP and 75% with other practice staff were face to face.  

GPs provide a lower percentage of their appointments face to face compared with other patient care staff in general practice. This partly reflects the different types of tasks done in general practice. For example, nurses and health care assistants are more likely to offer services like vaccinations or taking blood samples that have to be done in person.  

Can you tell how long people are waiting for a GP appointment?

Data are available showing the amount of time between booking and delivery of an appointment. But the time between booking and delivery only captures part of the waiting time, and cannot tell us how long it took to book an appointment. There are also sensible reasons why there might be a gap between booking and appointment, such as a practice booking a follow-up in advance. 

For January 2024, there were 14,892,716 appointments delivered on the same day as they were booked. Same day appointments represented 45% of all appointments in January 2024.

Appointments and activity

Appointments do not represent the full range of activity in general practice. GPs also undertake other work such as managing repeat prescriptions, making referrals, doing administrative tasks and clinical supervision of other staff. GPs who are partners in a practice manage the practice business as well. Nurses and other patient care staff also have work outside their appointments that does not involve direct contact with patients.  

General practice workforce

Number of GPs

Figure 3

Since 2015, the total number of GPs by headcount has increased, rising from 41,193 in September 2015 to 46,921 in January 2024. However, not all these GPs work full time. The full-time equivalent number of GPs has increased by a smaller amount from 34,392 in September 2015 to 37,208 in January 2024.

But this is not the complete story. These figures include GPs in training who need supervision from a more senior GP. They also include locum GPs who are fully qualified but cover for others on sick or maternity leave. In the same period, the total number of fully qualified and permanent GPs by headcount has only increased slightly from 34,828 to 35,859.

Due to a reduction in working hours by GPs over time, the number of full-time equivalent fully qualified permanent GPs has in fact decreased from 28,590 in September 2015 to 26,884 in January 2024 – a fall of 1,706. The number of full-time equivalent, fully qualified permanent GPs is the best measure of GP workforce capacity.  

This means the 2019 Conservative pledge for 6,000 more doctors in general practice by 2024 is unlikely to be met.  

Number of other staff working in general practice

Figure 4

In January 2024, the number of full-time equivalent nursing staff in general practice was 16,997. This represents a 1,800 increase over September 2015. 

The number of staff providing direct patient care in general practice who are not GPs or nurses has increased substantially since 2019. This includes roles such as clinical pharmacists, paramedics and social prescribing link workers. The rapid growth is largely down to large-scale recruitment of staff into primary care networks through the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS).  

The target within the 2019 Conservative manifesto and outlined by NHS England is to recruit 26,000 additional direct patient care staff into general practice by the end of 2023/24 compared with 2019. This target has been met with 36,523 more full-time equivalent direct patient care staff employed in general practice in December 2023 compared with March 2019.2

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan, published in June 2023, set out further ambitions on the general practice workforce. This includes increasing the number of direct patient care staff by 15,000 and primary care nurses by 5,000 by 2036/37. It also aims to increase GP training places from 4,000 in 2022 to 6,000 by 2031/32.  


We used the Appointments in General Practice dataset from NHS Digital. This is classified as experimental statistics due to data quality issues in certain fields. 

The appointments data reflect appointments booked in the practice system. This analysis includes all recorded appointments, whether attended or not. Some practices use list appointments, where multiple appointments are recorded in one list. The dataset does not include list appointments, which leads to undercounting in some practices.  

The estimated total appointments is calculated by NHS Digital to estimate the number of appointments in England. The calculation assumes the practices in England that did not submit appointments data have a similar number of appointments per registered patient as those included in the data.  

The dataset categorises staff as GP or other practice staff. GP includes GP registrar, locum GP or principal GP. Other practice staff includes acupuncturist, chiropodist, community psychiatric nurse, counsellor, dispenser, district nurse, health visitor, interpreter/link worker, osteopath, physiotherapist, practice nurse or other practice staff.  

The appointments dataset classifies the appointment mode as face to face, telephone, home visit or video/online. Different GP systems record these in different ways and the accuracy of recording appointment mode in different systems varies. For example, the EMIS system has a category called ‘appointments’ which is read as face to face in the Appointments in General Practice dataset but some practices may record all appointments in this category even if they are by telephone or video. 

We calculated the percentage of appointments delivered face to face by GPs and other practice staff using the region tables from the Appointments in General Practice dataset. These tables stratify the count of appointments by staff group and appointment mode (and other categories) in each integrated care system (or clinical commissioning group for data released before July 2022). We used the total for all ICSs/CCGs each month.  

Further information on methods and limitations for the data used can be found at the NHS Digital pages linked above.


We used the General Practice Workforce, Primary Care Network Workforce and Primary Care Workforce Quarterly Update datasets from NHS Digital.  

The data available to estimate the number of staff working in ARRS roles has changed over time. NHS Digital release a quarterly update of ‘collated’ FTE figures for staff working in ARRS roles. This collated figure is produced by combining two data sources: NWRS with ARRS claims data. Practices and PCNs submit data on the contracted hours and hours worked for individual staff members to the NWRS. PCNs submit claims for staff paid via the ARRS scheme.  

Both ARRS and NWRS are underestimates but combining them provides a more accurate estimate than using either data source alone. The collated data is only available from September 2021 onwards. Between March 2020 and June 2021, we combined the General Practice Workforce and Primary Care Workforce datasets to estimate the number of staff working in ARRS roles, but this may have included duplicates. Prior to March 2020, estimates are based on the General Practice Workforce dataset only, as no other data are available for that period.  

Further information on methods and limitations for the data used can be found at the NHS Digital pages linked above.

Further reading

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