Just over half of GP appointments took place in person despite Covid restrictions lifting

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There were 13.7 million in-person consultations and 9.1 million by telephone. Other patients were seen by video or had home visits.

The proportion seen face-to-face was 57.7 percent, only slightly up from 56.9 percent in July and well below the pre-pandemic average levels of around 80 percent.

Dennis Reed, director of over-60s campaign group Silver Voices, said: “There appears to be no movement on behalf of the medical establishment to change what they are currently doing.

“It says to me that the pandemic was used as an excuse to reduce the number of face-to-face appointments.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said GPs should offer more in-person appointments as life returns to normal.

But Mr Reed said: “The target should be to return to the same levels, at least, that applied before March 2020.

“The Government now needs to move beyond soundbites and take some firm action.”

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: “It’s really important that any older person who wants a face-to-face GP appointment can get one.”

But Royal College of GPs chairman Professor Martin Marshall said: “Huge numbers of GP appointments are being made every day.

“Almost half are on the same day they are booked, with a higher proportion being made in person in August than July, all in line with infection control measures. This is against a backdrop of intense workload and workforce pressures.”

Prof Marshall said patients and GPs should decide together what type of appointment was appropriate.

Dr Mark Sanford-Wood of the British Medical Association said: “GPs are doing their best to give as many patients as possible the appointments they need safely.

“We didn’t have enough GPs before the pandemic and we don’t have enough now. Covid is still impacting GPs and their teams with staff absences.”

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