Exclusive Expected guidance from RCGP on face-to-face GP consultations is delayed because NHS England has yet to ‘provide feedback’ on existing resources.
According to the GP access plan, NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care had ‘asked RCGP to consider providing a further update to its guidance to practices by the end of November’.
The plan, announced in October, said this would ‘assist practices in working through what is the new optimal blend of remote and face to face triage and care’.
But the RCGP told Pulse it is ‘currently waiting’ for NHSE’s feedback on its resources before being able to provide any update.
A spokesperson said: ‘We regularly review our resources and guidance for our members. Our resources around delivering remote care were reviewed in Autumn this year.
‘We have agreed to review [NHS England’s] feedback on these resources and we are currently waiting for this.’
And they added: ‘Our understanding is it was never NHSE’s intention that we review the College’s position statement, which was published earlier this year and still stands.’
The position statement, published in May this year, said remote consulting should be an option but not the ‘automatic default’ for GP care and services post-pandemic.
Meanwhile, the latest RCGP guidance – reviewed in September this year – advised that ‘there is no perfect appointment make-up and each practice will need to develop and refine what works best for their patients and their team supported by data, staff and patient feedback.’
It added that there is ‘no one-size-fits-all approach’ and a ‘multimodal approach helps to mitigate against digital inequity’.
Following the announcement of the GP access fund, NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard has said that NHSE has not defined the ‘right number’ of GP face-to-face consultations, as this is likely to vary depending on patient populations.
Speaking at a House of Commons health committee evidence session in October, she told MPs that the NHS has ‘really tried to steer away from saying that there is a kind of right number for face-to-face versus other types of access.’
NHS England told Pulse on background that it is working closely with RCGP on guidance but declined to provide a comment.
NHS England’s access plan did not define the balance of remote versus face-to-face consultations it expects practices to offer, but those deemed to be the worst-performing on face-to-face care were told they would not get a share of the winter funding.
The access plan also said that NHS England would commission an additional QOF improvement module, ‘focused on optimal models of access including triage and appointment type’.
NHS England will also work with research partners such as NIHR to secure a ‘big data analysis of the impacts of remote versus face-to-face consultations’, it added.