Are millions really waiting more than 2 weeks to see a GP?

Don’t believe everything you read in the press? Eye catching headline on my newsfeed yesterday taken from the Guardian. 38 Million wait more than 2w for a GP appt.

Now anyone who listens to “more or less” or like me is a fan of Tim Harford might say – does this sound right?

That would be 2/3 of the population waiting for an appointment? Really?
One question is why to 2/3 of the population want an appointment with their GP?
However the picture that goes with the article says 5Million. ?Case of over zealous headline writer?

The story is based on a Liberal democrat attack on the government but looking at their page – I cant see this statistic. They reference the House of Commons library who also don’t seem to reference this – they reference the GPAD data which is interesting as:

1. Most people agree its rubbish. Garbage in Garbage out.

2. The page I looked at ( said things like 28.7 million appointments were estimated to have happened in May 2023, 43.9% of appointments in May 2023 took place on the same day that they were booked. (yes that’s 12.5 Million appointments waited less than 1 day in May) 47.0% of all appointments in May 2023 were carried out by a GP and 20.6% were carried out by nurses. 69.8% of all appointments in May 2023 were carried out face to face.

3. It also explains that the data only looks at appt booking to consult time – and has no knowledge of what the patient wanted. were they booking their annual review? a followup appointment in 6weeks? waiting to see their usual doctor who is on holiday. It also doesnt take into account some patients present more than once.

Interestingly while the list the journalists name, there doesn’t appear to be an easy way of challenging the headline.

Why do I bring this up – the last thing the NHS needs is more pointless targets driven by poorly collected and understand statistics and perhaps its time we actually collected info on what people wanted?