GPs and hospitals must ‘jointly manage’ patients stuck in the backlog of care caused by the Covid pandemic, NHS England has said.
It comes as the health secretary yesterday pledged to provide whatever further ‘funding we need to deal with the backlog’ but said discussions within the Government were ‘not concluded’.
In the latest GP webinar held last night, NHS England said that it has asked ‘hospitals particularly to communicate fully with any patient who is currently on a waiting list for treatment’.
A slide presented at the webinar said that new guidance is ‘primarily aimed at acute trusts but may also be of interest to the wider system’.
NHS England deputy medical director for primary care Dr Raj Patel added that GPs should also ‘look at’ the guidance’ to ensure patients ‘are getting the right level of information to help them know what’s happening whilst they’re waiting for treatment and also to help you help your patients whilst they’re waiting’.
He said: ‘This is a problem that we’re all facing together – secondary care, primary care, community care [and] mental health – and it’s really important that we all work together and don’t work in silos, so that we can jointly manage this backlog of care that we’re dealing with.’
It comes as the latest GP appointment figures yesterday showed the ‘immense pressures’ that GPs and are under with the ever-increasing workload generated by the pandemic and patient backlog.
And a BMA report revealed this week that GPs are facing ‘moral distress’ as a result of not being able to deliver the care they feel they should – including due to remote consultations and having to manage those stuck in the pandemic backlog.
Last week, official figures from NHS England showed that the hospital waiting list has topped five million for the first time.
It followed an admission from an NHS England director that addressing the backlog and restoring services is a ‘public health crisis’ and a ‘big ask’ of GPs.
Meanwhile, Matt Hancock also yesterday pledged to be ‘open’ with the public about the scale of the backlog, following repeated calls for honesty from the BMA, which has said that clearing the backlog to ‘more manageable’ levels could take up to a decade.