Recent data shows that Devon’s GP practices have seen the biggest improvement in access since the start of the covid-19 pandemic.

Inspectors from the Care Qaulity Commision (CQC) also rate Devon GP practices highly.

Data from NHS Digital shows that in January 2023 there were more than 754,000 appointments in general practice in Devon - the highest proportion of appointments per 1000 people in the country.

This means there are now 8 per cent more appointments available locally compared to before the covid-19 pandemic.

The number of face-to-face appointments has also risen since the height of the pandemic, when GP practices were required to reduce the risk of infection spreading by increasing their remote consultations through online and phone triage. More than 65 per cent of appointments in general practice in Devon are now face-to-face, in line with the national average.

Dr Steve Harris, a GP said: “The impact on general practice since the start of the pandemic has been significant. Practices had to make fundamental changes to the way they worked almost overnight, and both patients and staff have had to adapt to new ways of working. These changes have had to remain in many ways almost three years on.

“For many patients, the convenience of online and phone consultations, reduces the need for more face-to-face appointments, and increases the capacity for GPs to see people with the greatest clinical need.”

Local GP practices are still seeing the negative impacts of people not turning up to booked appointments. More than 3 per cent of people didn’t turn up for a booked appointment with their practice in Devon in January, meaning 26,000 appointments were wasted. This wastage impacts on GP practice’s abilities to see people who need to be seen the most.

Dr Harris added: “If you have an appointment but you canno longer make it, please let your practice know. Demand for general practice is even higher than it was before the pandemic, and these appointments are precious. By cancelling an appointment when you no longer need it, practices can free up more time to see patients with the greatest clinical need.”

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspects and rates general practice on a range of measures including safety and patient experience. Out of the 120 GP practices in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay, 117 are rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’.