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GPC members want national guide on directing patients elsewhere

GP leaders should prepare a guide on how to signpost patients to other services, GPC members have urged, after NHS England forced a practice to stop telling patients of its workload pressures this week.

Devon LMC interim medical secretary and GPC member Dr Mark Sanford-Wood said proposals for the GPC to develop such guidance will be raised at its next meeting on the 18 December after being pushed by himself and other GPC members.

This followed what he branded a ‘gross overreaction’ by NHS England in the case of the Devon-based Kingskerswell and Ipplepen Medical Practice, which had been sending an email and leaflet round to patients advising them to visit alternative providers such as pharmacies, mental health services and physiotherapists for certain conditions.

Although the GPs at the practice felt they had done nothing wrong, coming under pressure of funding cuts and increasing demand, NHS England told them to stop spreading their message in light of concerns expressed for patients.

Dr Sanford-Wood said that although NHS England overreacted, the practice’s message had been ‘a bit clumsy’.

But he added: ‘If the GPC could put something fairly generic out there for practices to use as a template that would be really useful. It could help avoid any misunderstanding. There are other members of the GPC who also think this would be a good thing.’

Readers' comments (6)

  • Don't back off now!.you did the right thing and it may even lead to something better

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  • Vinci Ho

    At least GPC responded differently as compared to RCGP on this.

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  • Yes, don't let them bully you. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see there is absolutely nothing wrong in signposting patients to services they can self-refer to if they wish.

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  • "Dr Sanford-Wood said that ...... the practice’s message had been ‘a bit clumsy’."

    Why are GPs incapable of keeping their mouths shut? You never miss any opportunity to undermine each other and destroy the unity you need to fight. If the LMC felt the practice message was clumsy it should say so to the practice but not say it in public. You GPs will never stand firm against the government forces and instead can't wait to show off your egos and pronounce about each other.

    You are your own enemy.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    The Family Doctor Association has been pressing DoH and NHSE to grasp the nettle of demand management for the last 1-2 years now - with little effect.
    We need more than the odd campaign of "see your pharmacist" (useful though that may be).
    We need the tools to cope with the "entitled" attitude of patients at a time of reducing resources and lack of GPs.
    A case in point just this morning - a new female patient shouting at the receptionists as the best they could offer mid morning was a phone appointment with a GP this afternoon (which can become face to face if needed). That was "no f***ing good as I'm going shopping" and tomorrow was not soon enough. Her shouted threats to "report us to the BMA" cut little ice with the staff.
    We need a strong publicity campaign about using the NHS responsibly - or losing it - and GPs need to be backed up in saying "not reasonable" to patients who think that the greater the number of "F" and "C" words they call my staff the sooner they will be seen rather than being told that not enough people complain about us...

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  • Peter's situation from earlier is a sad reflection on society, behaviour that is fuelled by all these campaigns by Patient Association etc to treat healthcare like consumer activities ie complain to get what you want.
    Until people have to pay for the service, it, and we, will continue to be abused, unappreciated and dealing with too much time wasted with inappropriate consultations.
    I have too much pride to put up with it any more, joining the exodus!

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