A PRIMARY care network in Wantage has been rated one of the worst in the UK for face-to-face appointments.

The NHS has published figures for the first time showing the number of in-person appointments held by every GP surgery in England.

It reveals more than one in three GP practices are doing more appointments remotely than face to face.

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Wantage PCN, which includes the Church Street and Newbury Street practices, has been rated the eight worst in the UK with 76.7 per cent of appointments held remotely in October.

It falls behind Ely North PCN in Cambridgeshire with 84.5 per cent, Better Health PCN in Manchester with 83 per cent and Rural West PCN in Hampshire with 82.6 per cent.

The release of the data comes after calls from patients and ministers for practices to be held to account for failing to see patients in-person during the pandemic.

However, Julie Mabberley, the chairman of Newbury Street Practice’s Patient Participation Group (PPG), said an increase of virtual appointments means more patients are being seen.

“From the PPG’s point of view,” she said. “The GP can see more people if they are telephone appointments rather than face-to-face.

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“If they see someone face-to-face it probably takes them about twice as long so the more people they can deal with over the telephone the more people they can actually deal with.

“I’m not an expert but I’m told they speak to everyone first on the phone and if they need to see the patient in person then they will arrange to do so but if they can do it via phone or video then they will do it that way first.”

In September last year, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group approved £5.5m in funding for the anticipated extension and partial refurbishment of their shared building on Mably Way

Ms Mabberley hopes the extension will make appointments more accessible for patients.

She said: “What they are trying to do is they are now in the process of building an extension so they will have 18 new patient rooms across the two practises and that should be complete in the next 18 months.

“Not all will be used by GPs as they are hiring a lot of other people that can support them by seeing people with specific issues such as a physiotherapist.

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“They will also have very experienced nurses. As we know across the country there is a shortage of primary care staff so we hope the situation will improve.

“Overall if we’re not seeing people face-to-face it just means more people are having appointments.”

Wantage PCN failed to comment.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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