The number of GP consultations has risen from 217.3 million in 1995 to 300.4 million in 2008, according to data published by the NHS Information Centre in September 2009.
The study, conducted using the QResearch general practice database, revealed that an average patient had 5.5 consultations in 2008, compared with 3.9 in 1995. Meanwhile, the average GP surgery carried out 34,200 appointments in 2008, up from 21,100 in 1995.
The study also highlighted an increase in the number of patients seen by a nurse in primary care. In 1995, 76% of consultations were undertaken by GPs, 21% by nurses and 3% by other clinicians, whereas in 2008, 62% were carried out by GPs, 34% by nurses and 4% by other clinicians. However, this increase in proportion could be explained by an increase in patients seeing nurses in general, rather than fewer patients seeing a GP.
However, the study did not take into account the length of consultations, or the number of tasks undertaken within a consultation, which could impact on the reliability of the findings.
Further reading - A detailed analysis of the UK pharmaceutical market, including further statistics on ambulatory care, is available from Espicom: The Pharmaceutical Market: United Kingdom (published June 2009)