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NHS GP Appointment Statistics 2023 Show Shocking Reality

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Researchers at Minton Morrill have scrutinised the NHS GP appointments statistics in 2023 so far to see how the picture looks for NHS staff and patient care alike, in time for National Self Care Week in November.

The latest NHS GP Appointment statistics in 2023 display a multitude of concerns, including patients not attending their appointments, high appointment waiting times, low appointment length, and a large number of appointments occurring both over the phone and via video call, rather than in-person.

All of these factors could have serious consequences for the quality of care provided by the NHS, as well as contributing to issues such as late diagnosis of illness, which can then have an impact on the treatment that can be provided to patients.

The data highlighted some key statistics, namely:

  • Over 1 in 25 GP appointments are unattended by patients.
  • Over 1 in 25 patients waiting over 1 month for GP appointments.
  • 3 in 20 GP appointments last under 5 minutes.
  • Over 1 in 4 GP appointments occur over the phone or video call.

National Self Care Week - 13th to 19th November 2023 - is an annual UK awareness week focusing on embedding support for self-care across communities. The theme this year is on ‘mind and body’, and many health organisations will be communicating messages about taking charge of your mental and physical health.

However, as the week approaches, the data shows that many individuals may not be prioritising their own self-care, and that of others. In this article, we’ll be diving into the key statistics for each location to show where these figures are most alarming, and what impact we could see these having on individuals and our healthcare system.

GP Appointment Attendance 2023

The data breaks down GP appointment attendance within several locations between the months of January and August 2023. It shows that over 1 in 25 GP appointments were not attended by a patient overall.

This not only wastes vital NHS time and resources, but could have an impact on the individual, who may see their potentially dangerous ailment ignored or missed by a professional.

The locations where patients failed to attend their appointments the most, and the percentage associated with this, were:

  1. North East London – 6.60%
  2. Birmingham and Solihull – 6.26%
  3. South East London – 6.14%
  4. Greater Manchester – 6.04%
  5. Black Country – 6.00%
  6. North Central London – 6.00%
  7. South West London – 5.51%
  8. Frimley – 5.40%
  9. Cheshire and Merseyside - 5.08%
  10. Lancashire and South Cumbria - 4.81%

In comparison, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire had a far lower percentage of missed appointments, at only 3.00%.

The ramifications of missing GP appointments cannot be understated. Whilst on the one hand it wastes NHS time and resources during a period when the NHS is understaffed and struggling, it also contributes to late diagnosis which can mean the difference between curing a disease or a developing a potentially terminal diagnosis. Therefore, it is important to plan accordingly when making an NHS appointment to ensure that you are able to attend, or cancel in good time.

GP Appointment Wait Times 2023

The data also gives insight into GP appointment wait times. We have isolated the statistics for the percentage of appointments that patients had to wait over 28 days for. It showed that over 1 in 25 patients waited over 28 days for a GP appointment.

Categorising the data by areas with the highest wait times, the locations with the most concerning figures, and their percentage of appointments occurring after 28 days, were:

  1. Derby and Derbyshire – 7.93%
  2. Dorset – 7.47%
  3. Norfolk and Waveney – 6.62%
  4. Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes – 6.60%
  5. South Yorkshire – 6.38%
  6. Nottingham and Nottinghamshire – 6.36%
  7. Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire – 6.10%
  8. Gloucestershire – 6.06%
  9. Sussex – 6.04%
  10. Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland – 5.96%

On the other hand, North Central London had the lowest percentage of individuals who were required to wait more than 28 days for a GP appointment, at just 1.69%.

Increased waiting times have serious consequences for the quality of healthcare received. They can prevent urgently required care from being administered as well as contributing to a late diagnosis, which in turn can affect the overall mortality rate.

These increased waiting times are likely symptoms of an understaffed and overworked healthcare system that needs more support than it is currently receiving. It is important that these wait times are addressed by the relevant authorities as they may also lead to duty of care issues.

Appointment Length 2023

The data shows that there are a great number of GP appointments that are between just 1 - 5 minutes long. In fact, 3 in 20 GP appointments last under 5 minutes.

In terms of the locations that had the most appointments under 5 minutes long, they were:

  1. Suffolk and North East Essex – 18.77%
  2. Lincolnshire – 18.53%
  3. Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland – 18.52%
  4. Devon – 18.27%
  5. Hampshire and Isle Of Wight – 18.25%
  6. Norfolk and Waveney – 18.12%
  7. Nottingham and Nottinghamshire – 18.02%
  8. Dorset – 17.93%
  9. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – 17.52%
  10. West Yorkshire – 17.51%

For comparison, the location with the least amount of GP appointments between 1-5 minutes long was North Central London, with only 11.22% of their appointments being this short.

It is important to recognise that other times recorded were 6-10 minutes, 11-15 minutes, 16-20 minutes, 21-30 minutes, 31-60 minutes.

Having shorter appointment times suggests that patients may not be receiving the quality of care that they need for an accurate and/or thorough diagnosis.

Again, this is likely a symptom of the NHS being understaffed and not receiving the financial support that it requires. In turn, quality of care across the board may suffer.

GP Appointment Mode 2023

The data shows that over 1 in 4 GP appointments are being held via alternative means, such as phone and video-conferencing software. The locations that have the highest percentage of appointments held in this way are:

  1. Frimley – 40.11%
  2. South East London - 36.50%
  3. North Central London – 35.72%
  4. Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West – 34.97%
  5. Herefordshire and Worcestershire – 34.84%
  6. Coventry and Warwickshire – 34.54%
  7. North East London - 34.22%
  8. South West London – 33.12%
  9. Hampshire and Isle Of Wight - 32.64%
  10. Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire - 31.12%

Comparatively, the locations that had the lowest number of appointments via phone and video conferencing software were Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes, with only 15.82%.

Whilst having GP appointments available over the phone and video conferencing software offers a more convenient and accessible means for individuals to consult with their doctor, it carries the potential for doctors to miss important symptoms. These could include body language and physical symptoms, which may help them get a better understanding of the client’s medical issues overall.

Again, these problems can contribute to late or misdiagnosis, meaning that patients could potentially be at risk of serious medical complications due to a lack of quality care.

National Self Care Week is Upon Us: do Your Due Diligence

As we can see, the NHS are under immense pressure to service the millions of people seeking medical care daily. The wait time, appointment length and appointment mode data highlights this severe impediment.

However, we can also see that many people are not respecting the NHS, and their own mental and physical health, in the way they should, by not attending or cancelling their booked appointments. Of course, there may be outliers and unforeseen circumstances to the statistics, but it is important to raise awareness of the importance of cancelling appointments within the required time frame of your healthcare provider.

It is important for us to take control of our own health, in light of National Self Care Week approaching, to bring forth a better future for us and our NHS.

Data Sources

The data presented in this article has been sourced directly from the NHS publication - Appointments in General Practice, from January to August 2023.

It contains information from NHS England, licenced under the current version of the Open Government Licence.


For each data set, we isolated our key component (i.e. unattended appointments, appointments with over 28 days wait time, appointments that were between just 1 and 5 minutes in length, and appointments carried out by phone/video). We then found the percentage of appointments pertaining to this component, and combined the data from each ICB and ICB Sub Location, which provided us with an average for each region.

Some important considerations for each element of the data include:

  • Appointment Attendance: at the time of the appointment a ‘Booked’ status will usually be changed to either ‘Attended’ or ‘DNA’. In some cases (4-7% of monthly appointments), the final status of an appointment remains as ‘Booked’. It is not known from the data whether these appointments were actually attended or not. From a sample audit these were found to be consultations where the status has not been updated to say if patients had attended or not. For this reason, these appointments are reported as "Unknown" status.
  • Appointment Wait Time: there are several factors that drive the time from a booking to an appointment. This includes appointment availability at the practice, patient availability, the urgency of the appointment and GP advice. Same day and next day bookings are of particular interest so are presented separately. Further bookings are presented by weeks.
  • Appointment Length: any appointments with a null duration or a duration of less than 1 minute or greater than 60 minutes have been grouped into an ‘Unknown / Data Quality Issue’ category within this publication. 
  • Appointment Mode: appointments marked as online, video or video conference are shown as “Online / Video”. This may or may not include a video element. Non-video based online consultations such as live chat or VOIP and video based appointments are all included in this category. It is likely that many video consultations start as a telephone appointment then switch to video and therefore may be undercounted. From March 2020, face to face appointment mode data may not be entirely reflective of what happens in the practices, as appointment types have been assigned to appointment modes prior to the pandemic. Thus, even if the appointment was carried out through a different mode, the appointment registers as a face to face appointment on the system.

This data was sourced directly from the NHS, however, its interpretations are that of the Minton Morrill researchers.