The National Team issued a document on 13 August which aims to ensure all appointments are being recorded in general practice appointment books, and that practices are able to fully capture the scale of work and workload in general practice. This document introduces an agreed definition of an appointment and asks general practice to start applying this now and systematically, as an important first step to improve data quality.
It acknowledges that during Covid-19, practices have had to rapidly change their working patterns, which has led to an incomplete record of clinical interactions with patients, with not all appointments currently being captured in the appointment book.
This may lead to an under-recording of activity and a subsequent under reporting by NHS Digital GPAD ( General Practice appointment data). This has the potential to give a false picture of overall activity and workload in general practice.
Accurate appointment data will be beneficial to the practice and will provide clarity on activity, identify any pressure points, and act as a tool to plan the use of existing staff and future staff requirements.
There are also wider benefits at a locality level: To understand demand and pressures; to inform service planning and new models of care; to understand the use of the Additional Roles; and to support crisis management in the event of temporary closure.
This information has also been shared with CCGs who may be in touch to initiate discussions with yourselves, and where appropriate to offer support to enable practices to rapidly apply this guidance in order to accurately capture and evidence their workload.
General Practice appointment data guidance August 2020