A PRIMARY care network in Wantage has defended its services after being rated one of the worst in the UK for face-to-face appointments.

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

It revealed 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, had been rated the eight worst in the UK with 76.7 per cent of appointments held remotely in October last year.

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 and praised the PCN for its work.

However, a spokesperson for the PCN said they were ‘disappointed’ by an article in the Oxford Mail addressing the published NHS figures.

A statement from the PCN said: “The dedicated and hardworking GP practices staff in Wantage were very disappointed by what was written.

“On their behalf, I would like to point out that the two practices, Church Street and Newbury Street, serve over 33,000 patients.

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“The practices between them employ a range of health care professionals (other than GPs and practice nurses) including clinical pharmacists, a pharmacy technician, a paramedic, social prescribers, a physiotherapist a health and wellbeing coach, Advance Nurse Practitioners, minor illness nurses and healthcare assistants.

“They also offer online services where patients can ask for an appointment or seek medical advice.”

They added: “In addition, the practices operate a triage system which directs patients to the most appropriate clinician to help them.

“This is initially by telephone and then, if appropriate, a face-to-face appointment will be made. The figures quoted in the news story imply that 76.7 per cent of appointments were held remotely in October but this does not take into consideration the patients who are successfully directed to and cared for by another healthcare professional.”

The PCN added that a ‘more realistic representation’ of the data in October is that more than 17,450 patients had a telephone call with a healthcare professional and 13,237 appointments were provided face to face.

An additional 300 home visits were done plus more than 2,500 covid jabs and nearly 5,790 flu jabs were done.

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The spokesperson added: “While not all these appointments have been provided by a GP, it shows that our teams are working incredibly hard to ensure that patients are seen by the most appropriate healthcare professional at the right time.”


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

Gee covers Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford and Wantage.

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

Follow her on Twitter @geeharland