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Primary care minister thanks GPs for caring for patients through pandemic


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Primary care minister Jo Churchill has thanked GPs for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic, in an open letter published today.

She praised GPs and general practice staff for ‘adapting’ their services to protect staff and the patients from the virus, but also for continuing to see patients face to face.

The letter comes after Pulse revealed that Ms Churchill met with the BMA’s GP Committee to discuss the ‘appalling slur’ which was NHS England’s recent ‘reminder’ to GPs to see patients in person.

The letter said: ‘We have been struck by the unprecedented pace at which general practice has adapted in response to Covid-19. Transforming the way primary care services operate. Introducing total triage, delivering remote consultations alongside face-to-face appointments in order to serve as many patients as possible, while protecting staff and the public from risk of infection.’

GPs and colleagues ‘have worked hard to identify and offer proactive care to shielded and high-risk patients, to provide much-needed primary care services to care home residents, and more recently to support the delivery of an expanded flu programme’, it added.

‘For many of you, workload is as high, if not higher, than at this point last year and now all being delivered in a COVID-tinged world. We remain hugely grateful for the efforts GPs and all practice staff continue to make to support all of us when we need you,’ Ms Churchill wrote.

However she went on to warn that ‘it goes without saying that we face a very tough winter’, with Covid infections ‘rising again as we all move into a period of further nationwide restrictions this week’.

In response, she said the NHS must ‘work together’ to ‘ensure all patients can access the services they need as safely as possible’, whether with Covid or other symptoms.

And she said: ‘As GPs, you are uniquely placed to give patients confidence that they can receive safe, effective care remotely, and that they can get face-to-face appointments when needed. Demonstrating that, although the delivery mechanism may have changed, their care remains at the heart of everything you do.

‘We rely on and trust general practice to prioritise clinical needs to help us achieve this. It won’t be easy, but we know that you and your colleagues will rise to the challenge.’

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.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse last month that he recently had meetings with both primary care minister Ms Churchill, and Sir Simon, to discuss the issue ‘in detail’.

READERS' COMMENTS [4]

Turn out The lights 5 November, 2020 6:18 pm

To late damage has been done and we do not forgive easily especially the way we have been treated the last 15 years.More nails driven into an almost complete NHS GP land coffin.Well done.

Turn out The lights 5 November, 2020 6:20 pm

Slow sarcastic thursday evening hand clap from me!For the performance of the establishment.
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Im not going to waste my energy on more theres a can of beer in the fridge with my name on it.After a long soul destroying day.

Patrufini Duffy 5 November, 2020 10:27 pm

It is comical how the public doesn’t even know who Jo Churchill is, but knows that GPs are worth a bashing and burning. Her biography is well. You decide:

https://www.gov.uk/government/people/jo-churchill#biography

P. S. A medic doesn’t need affirmations, justification and political cunning applause from a non-medic. They’re not that stupid. They’ve been through worse than an NHSE letter. Plus she probably goes direct to BUPA, AXA or Harley Street for any primary care concerns.

Not Arvind Madan 6 November, 2020 10:32 am

Im sure the GP glitterati are already championing this letter and patting each other on the back on how they got a lovely thankyou from some junior minister. A true victory for GPs!!!……….