GPs in England have reacted with anger to a letter sent out today to remind them to offer face-to-face appointments to patients.
NHS England sent out a press release ahead of the letter on Friday afternoon, with a Monday morning embargo, and the story was widely picked up in the media – including making the Telegraph’s front page.
But GPs reacted with anger to the tactics, which they thought painted GPs in a poor light and failed to acknowledge the hard work of GPs during the pandemic.
RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: ‘General practice is open and has been throughout the pandemic. GPs have been delivering a predominantly remote service in order to comply with official guidance and help stop the spread of Covid-19.
‘Any implication that they have not been doing their job properly is an insult to GPs and their teams who have worked throughout the pandemic, continued delivering the vast majority of patient care in the NHS, and face an incredibly difficult winter ahead.’
Cambridgeshire LMC said in a statement: ‘Cambs LMC strongly protests against NHS England using a letter to paint an utterly false impression of the vast majority of GPs who have taken their professional responsibilities to their patients extremely seriously, at some considerable personal cost and risk to the GPs themselves.’
Many GPs also reacted to the coverage on Twitter.
One GP said she had received abuse from patients following the newspaper coverage.
However, diabetes consultant Dr Partha Kar suggested the actual content of the letter did not warrant the response. He also urged colleagues to go easy on NHS England’s primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani, who co-signed the letter and was tagged in many negative Twitter posts.
Dr Dave Triska suggested that the letter was not the problem, but rather the ‘media management’.
Last month, GPs – including Dr Kanani – denounced comments made by a national newspaper columnist who said she ‘heard a rumour that GP surgeries not reopening until March’.
Health secretary Matt Hancock earlier this summer suggested all GP consultations could be done remotely in the future.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government announced plans last week to make GP consultations via video the ‘default option’.