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Over 400 sign GP letter against ‘harmful’ media coverage

Over 400 sign GP letter against ‘harmful’ media coverage

An open letter from grassroots GPs highlighting the profession’s concern about ‘inaccurate and harmful’ media messages about access to care has received over 400 signatures.

The letter, which Pulse published in full last week, said GPs and their teams are concerned ‘about inaccurate and potentially harmful messages coming from media and social media outlets regarding access to care within general practice during the pandemic’.

It follows last month’s controversy which saw NHS England sent out a press release to media outlets about a system letter to GPs ‘reminding’ them to see patients face to face where needed.

The authors were also concerned by a recent Telegraph article which suggested ‘a million’ fewer patients are seen by GPs each month.

The letter was penned by Hertfordshire GPs Dr Simon Hodes and Dr Neena Jha, with high-profile signatories includimg former RCGP chair Professor Dame Clare Gerada, Professor Azeem Majeed, Professor Frances Mair and Professor Steve Cox.

The letter said: ‘We are concerned that patients may falsely think that they are unable to see their NHS GP due to Covid-19, or may be unaware how to access care.’

Dr Hodes told Pulse: ‘There is a sense of needing to speak up for the profession, not only to refute the false and insulting allegations that GPs have been closed, but also to ensure that patients know how to access our care.

‘Many are concerned that harmful false media reports can send the wrong message to patients, pushing them to use A&E, or to not attend at all.’

He added: ‘The workforce is exhausted from fighting Covid, while being expected to continue routine aspects like QOF. This is yet another example of grassroots collaboration between GPs to help and support one another.’

Dr Jha said: ‘Primary care staff have been pushed to their limits and we have devastatingly lost treasured colleagues along the way. To read misleading allegations that GPs have been closed is offensive to the entire work force. Our primary concern is the impact of these misleading messages on patient care as those who believe this rhetoric may not seek help for worrying symptoms.

‘Responsible reporting is a patient safety issue.

‘I’ve never been prouder to stand alongside my primary care colleagues and to see the support for our one unified goal, which is and always has been care for our patients.’

NHS England landed itself in hot water with GPs last month after it issued a press release to national newspapers suggesting GPs were not offering face-to-face appointments where necessary.

However, the ongoing advice from NHS England is that practices should remotely triage all patients whilst the Covid-19 pandemic continues.

On Friday, Pulse exclusively revealed that both NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and health minister Jo Churchill have met with the BMA’s GP Committee regarding the letter about face-to-face GP appointments, the press release and subsequent media coverage.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse that there was ‘recognition of the concerns’ he raised and said he had ‘called on both NHS England and the Government to demonstrate that in their actions’.



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

The Prime Minister 19 October, 2020 4:20 pm


Anthony Matheson 19 October, 2020 6:20 pm

And to think I was considering doing the GP retraining scheme. This doesn’t exactly want me to leap at the chance. Carrying on in emergency medicine almost seems more sensible. Remember hospital doctors are all heroes working all the hours God sends. GPs on the other hand are all lazy and useless. Or so we and the public are led to believe.

Vinci Ho 19 October, 2020 6:31 pm

The travesty and treachery arise where less face to face consultation was interpreted as ‘not opening’ . Contact by other means ( phone , video , e-consultation) is not the ‘proper’ access like seeing the patient as far as these media are concerned :
‘a million’ fewer patients are seen by GPs each month’ , is in itself a parochial tunnel vision without discerning the facts of the matter . It also begs the question : what is the equivalent figure for secondary care then ? Protecting the NHS actually only referred to protecting hospitals and the hand clappings were never meant to be for GPs, I suppose ??
The animosity between us and NHSE/I has reached all time high while Trust has hit rock bottom .

Chris GP 19 October, 2020 8:37 pm


Malcolm Kendrick 20 October, 2020 8:15 am

My bank, First Direct, has never been open since the day it started business. They don’t even have any branches. Lazy *@”#ards.

Patrufini Duffy 20 October, 2020 8:30 pm

I agree with PM above – spot on. This was planned. And will continue. A local practice was taken over by OPEROSE Health – a usa company. My theory is that from the DoH, to CQC to GMC there is an influence that is ‘unknown’. Perhaps USA based or not. But, I can see token Harvard and Stanford MBA and MPH graduates being fast tracked to power positions, to decimate and infiltrate primary care and bring it to its knees, and make partners run for Australia or Canada while they take over this billion dollar industry. Wouldn’t that be your plan if you saw the NHS and it’s careless budget and beleaguered issues?

John Glasspool 21 October, 2020 12:49 pm

Gosh! 400! That means about 30,000 clearly don’t care or are bothered enough to take their heads out of the sand. No wonder it’s a mess.