NHS England will do ‘everything it can’ to share the ‘right messages’ about general practice amid ongoing abuse and criticism, primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani has said.
It comes as NHS England has published posters that GPs can print and display to discourage abuse from patients.
Speaking at an NHS England GP webinar yesterday evening, Dr Kanani said that GPs are concerned they will be ‘slammed by the media’ for prioritising vaccines and ‘not looking after our patients’, but that NHS England wants to ‘have [their] back’.
She said: ‘A lot of colleagues are saying, “Are we going to get slammed by the media for not looking after our patients or for focusing on vaccination, having had a really difficult year in general practice?” That’s a concern that’s coming through from general practice.
‘I think we would want to be clear that we massively value general practice and we both need you and want to have your back over the coming weeks and months that it will take to get through vaccinations and caring for our patients – and we will do everything we can to make sure that the right messages are being shared.’
It follows an NHS England letter that this week set out details of the temporary changes aimed at freeing up GPs for Covid boosters, including a part suspension of QOF and the PCN incentive scheme.
Dr Emily Lawson, NHSE’s national director and senior responsible officer for Covid-19 and flu vaccine deployment programme, also said it was important to recognise the ‘incredibly difficult trade-offs’ GPs have had to make every day while working throughout the pandemic.
And NHSE medical director for the North Dr Mike Prentice said that while ‘there will be comments’, NHS England ‘really supports’ GPs’ ‘efforts’.
He said: ‘I’ve been involved in many aspects of the response including the disruption to screening programmes and the cervical screening programme, which is core delivered by general practice, was the quickest to recover. That’s a real testament to GPs and their teams being able to deliver services alongside this incredible programme.’
‘I know there will be comments but we really support the efforts that you’re making and know – and indeed you’ve proven – that this is possible.’
Dr Kanani also said NHS England will share messaging asking patients to ‘respect’ general practice staff, as well as putting ‘more material out’.
She said: ‘Our team has been working on our respect materials. They are available to download and use locally, but we will be pushing these messages out as well.
‘It is really clear to us and I know to you that we have absolutely zero tolerance for abuse and we will back you on that.’
Last month, NHS England published an anti-abuse toolkit including posters, social media graphics and display screen graphics for use in GP practices – as part of its promised campaign against abuse towards NHS staff.
It comes as BMA England LMCs chair of conference Dr Shaba Nabi said health secretary Sajid Javid ignored an invitation to the GP wellbeing debate at the BMA England LMC’s conference in November.
The Department of Health and Social Care did not respond to Pulse’s request for comment.