NHS England’s primary care director Dr Nikki Kanani has told GPs and their teams they are ‘valued and appreciated’, as new figures revealed a sharp increase in the number of GP consultations last month.
The appointment data for September, published today, showed a 20% increase in the overall number of GP consultations compared with August; well over half (56.6%) of which were carried out face to face.
Dr Kanani’s message to practices, which she published on Twitter, comes as NHS England landed itself in hot water last month with a ‘reminder’ to practices to offer face-to-face consultations despite the ongoing pandemic and NHS England’s own ‘total triage’ advice.
It also comes as GPs called for ‘more support’ from NHS England after a practice was attacked with anti-GP graffiti last weekend – an incident they linked to GP bashing in the mainstream media.
Dr Kanani said: ‘These figures show what many of us have known intimately throughout the pandemic, that our general practice teams – because it has been a teamwide effort – have been working incredibly hard to rapidly adapt how we offer care to make sure that we keep our patients and our staff safe, while maintaining services.
‘So we at NHSE and I want to take this opportunity to thank our staff and colleagues for everything they’ve done throughout he pandemic. We want to thank you for working late into the evening, chasing advice, completing Docman, taking extra time to check up on the patient on the shielding list, or reassure a patient when their appointment has changed.
‘We want to thank you for the amazing work you’ve done delivering flu vaccinations in new ways – in car parks and on weekends, often in pouring rain.
‘We want to specifically thank our practice managers, reception and admin staff, pharmacists, nurses, allied health professionals, social prescribers – because without you, general practice just doesn’t work.’
She added: ‘Our thanks to our colleagues from different ethnic backgrounds who have been understandably worried about their own health and for missing special family celebrations and festivals.
‘We know that you’re tired and we know that you’re doing the very best you can in an incredibly difficult time. So please make sure that you rest and recharge, knowing that you’re valued and appreciated by your NHS family.’
However, BMA GP Committee executive member Dr Krishna Kasaraneni pointed out that the increase in the number of consultations has taken place with fewer GPs and more patients.
And NHS clinical commissioners co-chair Dr Steve Kell said the consultations increase was ‘not sustainable’, asking: ‘What is NHS England doing about the workload?’
Earlier in the week, Dr Kanani joined the outpouring of support for the GP practice which was vandalised with graffiti.
Dr Kyle Roys, a Bristol GP who called for NHSE support following the graffiti attack, thanked Dr Kanani and asked whether NHS England would be approaching mainstream media with the message.
Additional reporting by Eleanor Philpotts and Costanza Pearce