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GPC met health minister over NHS England’s ‘appalling slur’


'GPs will play significant role in Covid vaccinations'


Exclusive The BMA’s GP Committee has met with a health minister, as well as the NHS chief, over NHS England’s claim last month that GP practices are not open to patients, Pulse has learned.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse he met with Jo Churchill and NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stephens over the recent controversy, which he called an ‘appalling slur’.

It comes as the CQC today published its annual report, saying GPs should make sure not to give the ‘inadvertent’ message that their practice is closed.

NHS England landed itself in hot water with GPs last month after it issued a press release to national newspapers suggesting GPs were not offering face-to-face appointments where necessary.

However, the ongoing advice from NHS England is that practices should remotely triage all patients whilst the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

Dr Vautrey told Pulse that he recently had meetings with both primary care minister Ms Churchill, and Sir Simon, to discuss the issue ‘in detail’.

He said: ‘There was recognition of the concerns and I’ve called on both NHS England and the Government to demonstrate that in their actions.’

And speaking at this year’s virtual Best Practice conference yesterday, Dr Vautrey said practices have been open for business ‘from day one’ of the coronavirus pandemic and are doing ‘exactly the right thing’.

He told delegates: ‘Throughout it all, from day one to today, general practice has been open for business. Indeed more than that, we’ve gone the extra mile for our patients and our communities. 

‘So for NHS England to brief the press last month to suggest that practices were not enabling patients to have face-to-face consultations when they needed to be seen and examined was an appalling slur and is why I wrote demanding an apology.’

He added: ‘Practices are doing exactly the right thing by triaging all initial patient contacts and by doing so, they’re protecting both patients as well as the workforce from overcrowded waiting rooms and the risk of spreading this deadly infection.’

Dr Vautrey said he is ‘proud’ of how GPs and their teams have responded to the ‘massive challenge’ posed by the pandemic, despite ‘many dark days in the last few months’.

The BMA demanded NHS England issue a correction after practice staff faced abuse from patients – while NHS England’s medical director for primary care tweeted an apology for the ‘hurt’ caused.

Meanwhile, a health minister recently suggested GPs can ‘recommence’ face-to-face care safely using PPE.

And the chief medical officer this month urged patients to visit their GP in a live briefing.

Londonwide LMCs have launched a new social media video campaign, highlighting that GP practices are open and seeing patients with cancer symptoms, using the hashtag #GPsareopen.

READERS' COMMENTS [6]

Iain Chalmers 16 October, 2020 5:39 pm

Regrettably I doubt NHSE or the Health Minister give a “fig” better a political sound bite than taking SAGE advice or listening to the troops.

Farrukh Javid 16 October, 2020 11:04 pm

I don’t believe NHSE have responded to the BMA request for an apology, have they?

Not that it would make a difference anyway.

Patrufini Duffy 16 October, 2020 11:04 pm

Ministers know covid can kill you…but not them, as they sip oolong tea on Microsoft teams and conjure up other slurs and performance spreadsheets and some new fad ‘standards’. Remember, in spring 2021, no one in NHSE will recognise you. They have an A* track record of setting you up to fail – throw the mines back from where they came from, stay safe and be joyful.

Boye Adeboye 16 October, 2020 11:22 pm

Another BMA attempt at making the grassroots feel something is being done for them. I don’t know anyone who listens to BMA -whether doctors, politicians or the public.
Show a spine BMA! An industrial action is only what will make this politicians listen because their votes and electability will be at stake.

Malcolm Kendrick 17 October, 2020 11:36 am

What’s that I hear in the distance? It is the sound of the NHSE staff quaking in their boots in fear of action by the BMA.

Hold on, if you listen more closely, there is no sound to be heard at all.

Kevlar Cardie 19 October, 2020 2:58 pm

Magna Carta: did she die in vain ?