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RCGP moves to ‘set record straight’ on NHSE face-to-face guidance

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The RCGP has issued an updated response to NHS England’s letter requiring practices to offer face-to-face appointments to all who want them, amid criticism from GPs.

Yesterday, the RCGP had declined to dispute an NHS England claim that it had backed the controversial new guidance but today it said it wished to ‘set the record straight’ with a new statement.

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said this comes as ‘the strength of feeling amongst GPs since the publication of NHS England’s letter last week has been palpable’.

Distancing himself from its content, Professor Marshall said the letter’s ‘tone was misjudged, and the rigid expectations it sent out that practices should make changes at such short notice showed a lack of understanding of the pressures facing the profession’.

‘This is demoralising at a time when GPs are under more pressure than ever before and are feeling the strain of more than a year on the frontline of the pandemic effort,’ he added.

He also stressed that the RCGP ‘was not invited to comment on the letter before it was issued’ and urged NHS England to ensure GP practices are given ‘flexibility to decide how to best meet their patients’ needs at a local level’.

Earlier this month, the RCGP warned against retaining the ‘total triage’ model of general practice beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, in which it argued that it may ‘exacerbate health inequalities’ – a sentiment NHS England appeared to have seized upon.

But in the updated statement, the college called on NHS England to take the ‘opportunity to address the real concerns GPs have been raising and offer guidance on how to move forward in a safe and practical way’ when it makes the impending update to the standard operating procedure (SOP).

Professor Marshall said: ‘GPs and their teams adapted rapidly to new ways of working at the start of the pandemic, but don’t want call-centre medicine for their patients once the pandemic crisis has passed. 

‘However, we are still in a pandemic – there are rising cases of the Covid-19 variant first identified in India – so a sensible and cautious approach to returning to more normal general practice is key.’

GPs had criticised the RCGP, saying it must ‘clarify its position’ or risk being undermined for being ‘complicit’ in NHS England’s guidance – which the profession branded ‘tone deaf’ and ‘badly judged’.

It comes as the BMA yesterday called for an ‘urgent meeting’ with the health secretary to seek clarity regarding face-to-face GP appointment advice.


Patrufini Duffy 19 May, 2021 4:11 pm

FRCGPs vs. MBEs.
**Just need a few CBEs, DBEs and OBEs to add to the (as Boris’ nurse said) sh*t-show party, and then we have a ring side seat. Candy floss, baby pacifiers and teddy bears will be provided.

Neil Tallant 19 May, 2021 6:58 pm

I see the creation of yet another box for CQC soon to complete; mark you up or down depending on which way the wind’s blowing at the time.

terry sullivan 19 May, 2021 7:10 pm

arse covering by the college–stop giving them your money

David jenkins 19 May, 2021 7:15 pm

i stopped paying my sub when they made jamie oliver – a chef for god’s sake – an honorary fellow.

how can they expect to be taken seriously ?

Simon Sherwood 19 May, 2021 8:36 pm

Well I’m allowed to be a member now.
Under the new “just send the money no exams no questions asked “ policy of membership for all. ( not devaluing all those who took the exam obvs)

Guess what,
I don’t think I’ll bother

John Glasspool 19 May, 2021 9:32 pm

I told them to stuff their Fellowship when:-
1. They couldn’t get my name and address right.
2. They told us to sign people’s sky-diving forms.
3. We were said to be “ideally placed” to check on old peoples’ boilers.
4. And they moved to that unnecessary building near Euston station. Should have moved to another part of the country.

Vinci Ho 19 May, 2021 10:48 pm

I think when this pandemic started , I did suggest a theory that the bigger and older an establishment was , the harder it would be hit by Covid 19 .
Well, we saw examples after examples .
I do not want to be too cynical and critical on the college (only on this occasion ) as all of GPs are really hurt by this travesty of the real picture . But their reputation ,as the ‘control’ body to certify qualified new GPs, is once again dented in the sense of losing trust and confidence from fellow members. Perhaps , the fundamental question is , exactly what are they representing during this most disheartened epoch of our(GP) recent history , epitomised by low retention and recruitment ?
I have the feeling that they could not foresee this kind of rage erupted among so many colleagues when they played their usual role simply serving political correctness.
As I wrote last year , the only approach for leadership to survive during this pandemic is (a) Cut the red tape , be flexible (b) Improvise keeping in touch with the ever-changing circumstances and most importantly (c) listen to and look after the feelings of our frontline colleagues .
Well , we all know now which part these establishments had failed miserably…….,,

John Graham Munro 20 May, 2021 8:50 am

I recall the days when you could add M.R.C.G.P. to your name for £50 a year——–no exam

MULAYIL KRISHNAN Gopinath 20 May, 2021 11:41 am

RCGP is a total waste of time. Nothing more than a club