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GPs to be told to remove social distancing in practices, reports claim

GPs to be told to remove social distancing in practices, reports claim

The Government will this week tell GPs to end social distancing requirements in practices so that more patients can be seen face to face, it has been reported.

The move will form part of a package designed to address GP access issues, which is due to be published imminently, claims the Daily Mail .

NHS England and the Government last week promised to set out a ‘package of support’ for GPs tackling GP workload, abuse and low morale, but the details are yet to be revealed.

The Daily Mail last night reported that the health secretary will ‘tear up social distancing in surgeries to finally give thousands more patients face-to-face appointments with their doctor’.

It claimed that new guidance would include scrapping the two-metre social distancing rule in GP practices and relaxing cleaning requirements.

It also claimed that the ‘small minority’ of GPs who resist a ‘return’ to face-to-face appointments will be ‘held to account’ and that Sajid Javid is ‘thought to have considered potential financial sanctions’.

The package will also cut bureaucracy, with hospital staff writing more prescriptions and sick notes for patients, according to the Mail.

Pharmacies could also be asked to support GPs further, including by delivering more vaccinations to ease GP workload, it said.

The Mail claimed the package is a ‘major victory’ for the paper, following its campaign for GPs to see patients face to face as the ‘default’ option – which the BMA last month warned risks further fuelling abuse and violence against practices.

The details of the upcoming package have also been reported in the Telegraph, which has also come under fire for GP-bashing articles.

However, NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have repeatedly declined to share details of the package with Pulse.

Earlier this week, the DHSC said it is ‘hugely grateful’ to GPs and practice staff for their ‘hard work and dedication’.

But it added that GPs ‘must take the preference of the patient on board and provide face-to-face appointments to those who want them’.

The DHSC has also said it will shortly set out details of investment to support general practice capacity and improve access during the second half of the year.

Meanwhile, the BMA last week warned that any new or updated GP infection control guidance must reflect ‘high Covid levels’ and the size and layout of practice buildings, after the Government said it was considering relaxing infection control guidance for GP practices.

It comes amid the ongoing row over GP access and the provision of in-person appointments, with GPs coming under fire from sections of the mainstream media and some politicians, as well as from patients.

A GP surgery was last week forced to close for two days due to patient abuse.

This month, the BMA launched a survey into general practice’s response to the current abuse and workload crises, asking whether GPs would consider leaving the NHS or handing in undated resignations among other actions.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Roy Williams 13 October, 2021 10:33 am

Come on pulse – regurgitating the daily Mail is hardly news….

Kevlar Cardie 13 October, 2021 10:36 am

The Daily Heil has never recovered from their number one fan blowing his brains out in the bunker in ’45.

Simon Macartney 13 October, 2021 11:02 am

Please do not start regurgitating the nonsense of the daily “jack boot” especially with the impartiality you have given it here
If I want to read the crap I can choose to or not …

David Jarvis 13 October, 2021 11:20 am

Good luck with that Saj. We have responisbility to keep our employees safe and a liability to keep our patients safe.
So I for one will be cautious at least through this winter. Unhappy patients can always try elsewhere. They are usually unprofitable anyway so no great loss.

Mark Howson 13 October, 2021 12:02 pm

To force GPs to see patients F2F who don’t clinically need it would require a renegotiation of the GMS contract and removal of a long standing rule that it is the doctor who decides the place and time of a consult.

Mark Howson 13 October, 2021 12:06 pm

I wonder if we should call their bluff and see everyone face to face. In Australia everyone is seen by the doctor including children for vaccinations otherwise there is no payment.
So everyone is forced to come down even to get their normal blood results and medicines. Again in Australia you need a monthly appt to get your repeat meds – again because the doctor doesn’t get paid without it.
Life would get easy and boring as we ok meds and ok kids vaccinations every day. And queues would stretch into the next millennium.

Patrufini Duffy 13 October, 2021 1:36 pm

I will see everyone face-to-face. The appointment times will run as follows:

10.30 – GOLF BREAK –

You get the message Daily Snail? You win, well done. Bravo all around.
Most GPs have more credentials in language skill and writing than any Snail journalist twiddling their thumbs at home. They also know a completely different vocabulary. Called common sense and compassion. The worst rated piece of recycled paper in the UK. Plugged by some of the most narcissistic politicians. *I think PULSE should just block talking about them, it does the profession no good. Focus on the small bits of positivism left around. Bullys love a bit of attention in their lonely meaningless lives.

Saj Azfar 13 October, 2021 3:24 pm

Sorry David Jarvis

I was trying to reply but clicked the unsuitable/offensive link by mistake. I fully support what you said.

Apologies again

Nigel Clark 13 October, 2021 3:58 pm

Absolutely correct Mark Hobson at 12:02.
It is in the GP contract that we GP’s decide on the clinically most appropriate way to consult with a patient, and always has been.
The decision is based on what the patient needs, and not what the media, politicians, and misguided patients want.
GP’s need to be thick skinned about this and go on the offensive by repeating the message over and over again, that ‘no your governments’ of the past 30+ years, which is the length of time I have been a GP, have never provided enough GP’s and other primary care staff, and no there are not enough appointments.
Don’t blame us, write to your MP about it, and stop wasting our time’.

Reply moderated
Patrufini Duffy 13 October, 2021 6:40 pm


You can’t actually enact this. Legally. And politicians know that, despite their stirring and trouble-making. ___Because it is UK law to keep your staff safe. “All workers are entitled to work in environments where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. Under health and safety law, the primary responsibility for this is down to employers”.

It is not law to do face to face, and thus doctors will do right by their teams, and not some consumerist want. That is not a law, but some nannying gimmick and overpromise you’re playing DURING a pandemic, just so GPs can burden the clean up of social woes and anxiety, whilst you get away with corruption and back handers. A good distraction tactic. Be careful you don’t get sued by GPs who know lawyers in high positions.

Nicola Williams 13 October, 2021 8:13 pm

So Covid is no longer a concern for anyone ??? No patients in hospitals / ICU s any more with Covid ???.Thats strange – so are the media reported numbers of cases and deaths each day from Covid a lie ??.
Are the restrictions being lifted in hospitals / shops / public transport and aeroplanes ? Why are GPS being asked to write exemption letters so patients can go on a plane without a mask if there is no longer a risk
Absolute rubbish ! Just when you think they can’t find a worse health minister ……..
I will not put my health and my family’s health at risk just so some idiot of a politician can score some brownie points with the press .

Kevlar Cardie 14 October, 2021 2:01 pm

Better to be judged by 12 than lowered by 6.

Anthony Matheson 14 October, 2021 4:52 pm

I have one thing (amongst many to be strictly honest) – Golf Tango Foxtrot! If you’ve been in the armed forces you’ll definitely understand that TLA. Is the Government really that narcissistic and stupid? Well the answer is clear of course.

Well I want to see my MP face-to-face when I want. Even if I’ve run out of back copies of the Daily Mail to wipe my backside with I must be heard face-to-face so that they can go back to Westminster to spread my Covid infection.

Unfortunately I think it’s time for self-preserving radical change. We need to do what we’ve resisted for too long to the detriment of our mental and physical wellbeing.

We should all “do a dentist” on the government.

Johan Zylstra 16 October, 2021 9:40 pm

How long do you think it will take for the government to come to the negotiating table if all GPs hand back their contracts now
Who else is there to do the work?
A three month sabbatical sounds good to me and I am sure the panic of not having a GP to go to, will rapidly focus the minds of NHS England and the Secretary of State for heath. The fuel crisis took 2 days of rumoured shortage to create huge queues.
We have never been in a stronger position as a professsion. Don’t waste the opportunity!