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GPC members want national guide on directing patients elsewhere

GP leaders should prepare a guide on how to signpost patients to other services, GPC members have urged, after NHS England forced a practice to stop telling patients of its workload pressures this week.

Devon LMC interim medical secretary and GPC member Dr Mark Sanford-Wood said proposals for the GPC to develop such guidance will be raised at its next meeting on the 18 December after being pushed by himself and other GPC members.

This followed what he branded a ‘gross overreaction’ by NHS England in the case of the Devon-based Kingskerswell and Ipplepen Medical Practice, which had been sending an email and leaflet round to patients advising them to visit alternative providers such as pharmacies, mental health services and physiotherapists for certain conditions.

Although the GPs at the practice felt they had done nothing wrong, coming under pressure of funding cuts and increasing demand, NHS England told them to stop spreading their message in light of concerns expressed for patients.

Dr Sanford-Wood said that although NHS England overreacted, the practice’s message had been ‘a bit clumsy’.

But he added: ‘If the GPC could put something fairly generic out there for practices to use as a template that would be really useful. It could help avoid any misunderstanding. There are other members of the GPC who also think this would be a good thing.’