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Prime Minister says GPs should see patients face to face


pandemic response


The Daily Mail has claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson supports its campaign for GPs to see all patients face to face.

The newspaper’s campaign demands a ‘guarantee that face-to-face GP appointments are the default and anyone who wants to see their family doctor in person should be able to do so‘.

Today’s issue of the Mail claimed that the Prime Minister has ‘piled pressure on GPs to offer more in-person consultations’.

A Downing Street statement, published in the paper, said: ‘The public rightly may choose to want to see their GP face to face – and GP practices should be making that facility available to their patients.

‘The NHS has been clear to every GP practice that they must provide face-to-face appointments, and we fully support that.’

It added: ‘GPs throughout the pandemic have worked hard to see patients and appointment numbers have returned to pre-pandemic levels. 

‘It’s right that the public expect to be able to see their GP in person, if needed.’

However, the Mail suggested the statement did not go far enough, as while a ‘positive step’ there was ‘no commitment to take action’ from the Prime Minister.

The newspaper already reported that health secretary Sajid Javid backed its campaign.

Mr Javid told the Mail on the weekend that he is ‘committed to ensuring everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, can choose to see their GP face to face’.

And he added that he was ‘grateful to the Daily Mail for launching this campaign’.

The health secretary also told MPs in the House of Commons last week that it was ‘high time’ that GPs returned to ‘pre-pandemic’ practices of offering face-to-face appointments to ‘everyone who would like one’.

Former health secretary Kenneth Clarke also told the Mail he believes face-to-face appointments ‘should go back to pre-pandemic levels and [doesn’t] see why they can’t’.

The Daily Mail campaign’s five-point ‘manifesto for GPs’ includes calls for the Government to ‘act to ensure a greater proportion of GP appointments are in person’, including by providing ‘incentives or penalties for local surgeries if necessary‘.

It also said that the Government must take ‘urgent action’ to deliver on its election promise of 6,000 more GPs and 50 million more GP appointments per year and that ‘if necessary’ practice-based pharmacists or nurses should ‘receive extra training so they can ease [the] burden on doctors and help with face-to-face cases’.

However, RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall today told MPs that a patient ‘right’ to have face-to-face appointments if they wish is ‘undeliverable’.

Speaking at a House of Commons health and social care committee evidence session, he said: ‘There’s no point in having a right if it’s undeliverable and it is essentially undeliverable at the moment, because of the workload pressures.

‘Ideally what you want is a shared decision making between the GP and a patient to decide at triage whether the face to face is necessary or not.’

The BMA yesterday warned that the newspaper campaign risks further ‘inciting’ abuse and violence against GP practices.

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said it was ‘damaging to both doctors and their patients and serves no real purpose other than to give backing to the growing trend of abuse, vitriol and violence that is being directed towards our healthcare workers’.

Dr Vautrey also stressed that GPs are operating ‘in line with NHS England’s and the Government’s guidance’.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, also of the BMA’s GP Committee, today suggested the campaign will extinguish any ‘enthusiasm left for the job’ among GPs.

Meanwhile, a petition calling on the Government to instruct GPs to ‘restart’ face-to-face appointments has now surpassed 300,000 signatures.

Another petition, hosted on the Government website, which calls for Parliament to ‘create a legal right for patients to receive timely face-to-face GP appointments’, has been signed by almost 17,000 people.

It comes as a man has been charged with assault after attacking four staff members at a GP practice in Manchester on Friday afternoon, leaving two hospitalised with head injuries.

And GP leaders last week linked record numbers of GPs seeking mental health counselling to the ‘current vitriol and unfair attack against GPs’ in the media. 

A Pulse survey this month revealed that nearly three-quarters of GPs are experiencing increased levels of patient abuse compared with before the pandemic.

And, earlier this month, the Doctors’ Association UK reported Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) for breaching the Editors’ Code of Practice with ‘inaccurate’ articles in which she suggested GPs are ‘hiding’.

READERS' COMMENTS [20]

Mark Howson 21 September, 2021 10:41 am

The key words are … if needed. And the contract says it is the Dr who decides on need.

Samir Shah 21 September, 2021 11:14 am

NHSE, RCGP, GPC, BMA, all of us a profession, must hold Sajid Javid and Boris to account and get a press briefing on Pulse. If there ever was a reason to be united, this is it.

Samir Shah 21 September, 2021 11:24 am

The message that we are seeing Face to Face when needed should be as loud and as repetitive as the lies about practices being closed and not seeing face to face etc.
How about a simple repetitive message saying that we are seeing face to face while still dealing with the pandemic at the same time.

But BoJo is right about the need for more GPs to provide more GP appointments per year

David Church 21 September, 2021 12:36 pm

Is he actually trying to provoke a Revolution ?

Malcolm Ridgway 21 September, 2021 12:55 pm

Maybe the way out of this is to offer patients the choice of F2F or online (as long as clinically appropriate). Whilst it is only in the GP’s gift to decide then people are more likely to complain. A bit like shared decision making – sharing the problem shares the risk (and subsequently blame if things do not turn out optimally).

Mad Dog Munro 21 September, 2021 1:23 pm

Unhappy with access to your GP ?
Incapable of even basic self care ?
Massive sense of entitlement when you contribute nothing to society?
Think the Daily Mail is a “high IQ” newspaper ?
You too could be due compensation…
Call NOW on 0800 D-I-L-L-I-G-A-F.

Reply moderated
Beaker . 21 September, 2021 1:51 pm

Someone needs to remind the press that this is want *unt and H*****b wanted pre covid , then forced upon us at the outset of Covid panic.

Samir Shah 21 September, 2021 1:59 pm

Patient : The practice is closed.
Practice: We’ve been open all throughout and still are. We were never closed.

Patient: GPs, and practice staff, aren’t working
Practice: Yes we are. We’re dealing with lots of issues and work long hours.

Patient: I can’t see my GP
Practice: When needed, you can. We’re in a pandemic. There are not enough GPs. Talk to your MP.

Patient: But I can go where I want, do whatever and see whoever I want. I want to see my GP.
Practice: That’s partly why we’re still in a pandemic, and having to try to keep all patients safe and as well as possible under difficult circumstances. We’re not hiding!

Patient: Hospitals are seeing patients, why aren’t practices seeing patients?
Practice: We are, when needed. We’re in a pandemic. We were here and still are, when hospitals stopped doing routine work. We’re having to deal with this. PPE is still an issue / concern.

Beaker . 21 September, 2021 2:33 pm

Also need to be reminded re the large group of patient that like “ask my GP” or similar systems and will then be complaining just as ferociously about the return of the 3-4 week wait when we are all back on standard apt. systems.

Patrufini Duffy 21 September, 2021 2:35 pm

First count how many children you have, comb your hair and tidy up all those corrupt receipts and monies you stole from the public and people you personally killed off out of right wing elitism – then start talking.

John Graham Munro 21 September, 2021 3:10 pm

Boris did not see his G.P. FtF before he was ahem admitted to I.C.U.

Chris GP 21 September, 2021 4:10 pm

“Patient: Hospitals are seeing patients, why aren’t practices seeing patients?”
They’re not.
Its irony that the Mail calls on the government to make good on a promise to deliver 6000 more GP’s – when they are a major contributor to the burnout that is making us leave. No insight whatsoever

Personally I am happy to go back to face to face – but don’t be expecting me to wipe the room down in between patients, don’t expect me to deal with more patients than I am actually already doing, don’t expect there to be more capacity, and do be expecting me and my staff to have time off when we get ill this winter – which we will.

Mad Dog Munro 21 September, 2021 4:21 pm

Boris did not see his G.P. FtF before he was ahem admitted to I.C.U.

In my day we’d have paralysed, intubated and ventilated him on the Downing Street Flat’s kitchen table with a bottle of Glenfiddich and a warm potato masher.

These young GPs really can’t cut the mustard.

Yarp !

MULAYIL KRISHNAN Gopinath 21 September, 2021 4:35 pm

Remember the days of personal lists. On call everyday till 10pm. Saturday morning surgeries etc etc. There was none of this doctor bashing then !!

Samir Shah 21 September, 2021 5:26 pm

‘In my day we’d have paralysed, intubated and ventilated him on the Downing Street Flat’s kitchen table with a bottle of Glenfiddich and a warm potato masher’

Mad Dog (love it!), there’s an e-learning for health module for that.

JGM….don’t worry, I’m sure NHSE will expect an ITU unit to be attached to every practice in the next few days. Just waiting for Sajid and Boris to give the thumbs up….Muppet.

Michael Mullineux 21 September, 2021 6:32 pm

Mad Dog Munro. You remind me of ‘Kevlar Cardie’. If it is you, great to have you back. If not, great to have you calling out dubious contributors…

Mad Dog Munro 21 September, 2021 8:21 pm

@ Michael Mullineux.

I’m very reliably informed that they will be making a return.
Currently on Ops.
Deep cover.
Need to know and all that.

😉

Samir Shah 21 September, 2021 9:34 pm

Mad Dog, thanks for cheering us all up today. 👍🏾

Kevlar Cardie 22 September, 2021 4:13 pm

GPs say PM should see the inside of a prison cell.

Keith Greenish 23 September, 2021 12:42 pm

While I agree with F2F consultations as a default where safe, let us not forget that our contractual duty is to care for patients’ needs – not their wants which are frequently unrealistic.