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GPs to be asked to prioritise Covid boosters over routine appointments

GPs to be asked to prioritise Covid boosters over routine appointments

GP practices will be asked to ‘clinically prioritise’ Covid booster jabs over routine care, NHS England has said.

GPs will be asked to continue delivering ‘critical appointments such as cancer, urgent and emergency care’, as the Government decided to move the target date for offering all over-18s a booster jab back one month to 31 December.

NHS England said: ‘This might mean that for some people, routine appointments are postponed as part of the national mission to roll out boosters.’

Dr Emily Lawson, director of the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme said: ‘The NHS is turbo charging the booster vaccination programme so that as many adults in England as possible can top up their immunity against the virus quickly.

‘We know that speed is of the essence and so we will take every opportunity to improve access to the jab, from pop up sites in the community, GP teams doing even more vaccines each day and new sites opening up across the country.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a televised statement on Sunday evening: ‘To hit the pace we need, we’ll need to match the NHS’s best vaccination day yet – and then beat it day after day.

‘This will require an extraordinary effort. And as we focus on boosters and make this new target achievable, it will mean some other appointments will need to be postponed until the New Year.

‘But if we don’t do this now, the wave of Omicron could be so big that cancellations and disruptions, like the loss of cancer appointments, would be even greater next year.’

He added: ‘And I know the pressures on everyone in our NHS – from our GPs, doctors and nurses to our porters – all of whom have worked incredibly hard and we thank them for the amazing job they have done.

‘But I say directly to those of you on the front line, I must ask you to make another extraordinary effort now, so we can protect you and your colleagues – and above all your patients – from even greater pressures next year.’

It comes as the UK Chief Medical Officers today increased the UK Covid Alert Level from Level 3 to Level 4 ‘due to a rapid increase in cases of the Omicron variant’.

The Government said that the latest data suggests Omicron is ‘extremely transmissible’ and’ will become the dominant variant by mid-December’. Cases are ‘now doubling every 2-3 days.

Meanwhile, a University of Oxford pre-print study has indicated that increased infections in previously infected, or vaccinated individuals may be likely as a result of Omicron.

But the researchers added that importantly, this effectiveness was improved by a third dose of vaccine.

They also stressed that their study only looked at neutralising antibodies after the second dose, and that they also intend to study cellular immunity.

The Government announced that the booster effort will see:

  • New vaccination sites set up across the country, including mobile pop up sites;
  • Increasing opening times for vaccination sites, to seven days a week with more appointments early in the morning, in the evening and at weekends;
  • 50 military planning experts will help coordinate the national effort by supporting the NHS with logistics of the rollout;
  • Reprioritising the NHS workforce to deliver as many jabs as possible;
  • A national call for thousands more NHS volunteers.

The news comes just days after the Department of Health and Social Care told Pulse that the introduction of ‘plan B’ restrictions meant ‘no change’ to the GP Access Fund plans.


Andrew Marshall 12 December, 2021 10:24 pm

Perhaps someone could tell NHS England that GPs do not provide emergency care

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C P 13 December, 2021 6:57 am

Will CQC still investigate patient access?

David OHagan 13 December, 2021 8:46 am

‘your failure to plan is not my emergency’

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Rogue 1 13 December, 2021 9:28 am

I have only had urgent on the day appointments this month any way, sorry no routine appointments until the new year. Do he want me to stop seeing urgent cases?
I suppose they can all go to AED (haha)

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Iain Chalmers 13 December, 2021 9:50 am

Unfortunately Javed & mates can “talk the talk” but “walking the walk” is a different kettle of fish

The Dr on BBC News this AM gets my vote

Hope survived your Duty Dr stint.

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Richard Greenway 13 December, 2021 10:28 am

We’re only delivering urgent appointments now anyway.
If the story “GPs and practice staff must isolate for 10 days if close contact of Omicron Covid case” is still correct, then we’ll be lucky if we are still open to do that!

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Samir Shah 13 December, 2021 10:58 am

1. CQC – spot checks on access likely to continue.
2. GPs to continue to provide ‘critical appointments such as cancer, urgent and emergency care’ – so no change to GP appointments.
3. There’ll be an acute shortage of KY soon due to a ‘manufacturing problem’, and it’ll be put down as due to Brexit possibly.

Michael Mullineux 13 December, 2021 11:03 am

So let me get this straight: NHSE wish me to stop seeing ‘routine’ patients whilst seeing more patients f2f with a supportive NHSE Poster to reduce abuse and allowing CQC to inspect if they wish whilst isolating for 10 days if I happen to come into close contact with a potential Omicron C-19 patient, so that I can take part in C-19 vaccination boosters to the tune of 1 million daily with the continuation of 15 minute observations after boosting……

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Neil Tallant 13 December, 2021 11:34 am

From personal experience it is routine appointments that pick up or manage most disease. Is no one out there recognising the fact that for GPs to prioritise one condition is at the detriment of everything else. Governments may create targets the problem is we all end up missing the point. This policy may save some from getting covid but I fear that priority will create many more “victims of covid” that are unfortunately just over the current horizons.

Turn out The Lights 13 December, 2021 11:48 am

Don’t the government have to get permission from the Daily Mail first!

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Simon Macartney 13 December, 2021 1:46 pm

Doubling time of two days with current level of 4000 roughly puts the number on Xmas day at 260000 and 4 million by new year
Am I missing something or is it just the sound of thousands of fiddles putting me off my maths ?

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Doc Getmeout 13 December, 2021 1:49 pm

Daily Mail and SJ spent all their time to get back to routine work and yes F2F, now this has back fired and says forget all routine work!

SJ and PM eat your hats (if you got any) all adults vaccinated by end of year? AH AH AH
February looks likely.
He is taking the spotlight away from his woes of having parties in a lockdown.

Patrufini Duffy 13 December, 2021 3:34 pm

You asking the surgeons and revered hospital Consultants too, who are happily doing private work, in the private wing **of an NHS building!

Patrufini Duffy 13 December, 2021 5:13 pm

Yes Doc. It all back fired. Like I said, the universe is doing it’s rounds, and these politicians are going to get their own hammering in time.

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kathryn Moore 16 December, 2021 10:19 am

Completely agree. The difficulty is identifying the “ urgent” from routine. Weight loss for 2m? Bloating for 2m? Increased frequency micturition? Cough for 2w? We are going to miss many many many cancers.

Slobber Dog 17 December, 2021 7:49 am

Will this be a defence if something serious is missed?
Probably not.

Mark Cathcart 17 December, 2021 6:04 pm

I am a doctor, A doctor, that is what I do! I see sick people and try to make them better cause I am a doctor and that is what I do!
I do not need politicians telling me how to be a doctor cause that is why I went to medical school for 6 years, worked horrendous rosters, passed my exams and run a practice
I am a doctor so please hmg, let me do what I am good at and that is being a doctor
I am a doctor and I resent being told by non doctors what my job is
I look after sick people
I run my practice
I do my but cause you guessed it

I am a doctor and doctoring is what I’m good at

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