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DHSC to ‘lift all appropriate bureaucracy’ to free up GPs for coronavirus effort

Discussions are underway to free up GPs to deal with the coronavirus crisis by removing ‘all appropriate bureaucracy’, a health minister has said.

Speaking in Parliament today, Labour’s shadow health minister Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘GPs want to do their very best for their patients. They need quicker access to the protective equipment, they need clear guidance, but will she also lift all the bureaucracy that GPs are currently having to face?

‘I am talking about appraisals and the Quality and Outcomes Framework end-of-year requirements. Will she suspend those requirements so that GPs can focus entirely on responding to coronavirus?’

Responding, health minister Jo Churchill said: ‘I’m currently having those discussions to make sure that we can lift – within the bounds of making sure that patients stay safe – all appropriate bureaucracy.

‘And on PPE, we have over two-thirds of PPE now rolled out into GP surgeries, with the rest arriving imminently.’

Yesterday, cardiovascular experts called for the QOF and NHS health checks to be suspended to free up GPs to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

But the CQC has said it will not stop GP practice inspections, with most scheduled visits to continue in the short term.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: ‘As the number of cases of Covid-19 increases significantly nationwide in the way it is expected to, it is likely that demand on GP practices will grow.

‘GPs will need to be able to prioritise their time to care for those who need their expertise most which will mean reducing or stopping other more routine work.

‘This could include routine work such as QOF and many local enhanced services. It’s vital that practices should not be at financial detriment as a result of prioritising the care of those most in need.’

Last week, Pulse could reveal NHS England would be providing GP practices with free-of-charge PPE to protect against coronavirus following concerns about a lack of available equipment.

The Government is preparing for a worst-case scenario where 80% of the population get the coronavirus and one-fifth of the workforce is off work at the peak of the outbreak.