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GP practice switches to face-to-face consultations only

GP practice switches to face-to-face consultations only

A GP practice in Scotland has decided to stop offering telephone consultations, offering only face-to-face appointments going forward.

Glasgow-based Kelvin Medical Centre told Pulse that from 1 June it will only be offering face-to-face appointments to its patients but did not wish to comment further.

The local LMC said it was likely more practices would follow because face-to-face consultations are ‘fundamental’ to general practice.

Dr Patricia Moultrie, medical director at Glasgow LMC and deputy chair of BMA Scotland’s GP committee, told Pulse that Kelvin Medical Centre is certainly not the only practice that will want to return to see patients only face to face.

She said: ‘I think it’s probably unlikely that Kelvin Medical Centre is the only practice that is doing this.

‘We know that practices are continuously making changes to their appointment system to cope with the volume of workload and demand.

‘Face-to-face appointments are very valuable and very popular with patients, and they are particularly useful in managing ongoing investigation.

‘They are fundamental really to general practice and I think many GPs will be pleased and relieved that they are able to move back more towards that face-to-face model of delivery.

‘Practices are coping with excess demand and they have to be able to change their appointment system to best try and cope with demand, and they are free to do that, considering their patients needs and the wellbeing of their staff.’

Experimental data by Public Health Scotland shows that in February the monthly percentage of physical appointments carried out by GPs was 69%.

This data forms the first stage of the ongoing GP in-hours activity project commissioned by the Scottish Government to improve the availability and quality of activity data from in-hours general practice.

It comes as this week new research from the BMA found that GP patient lists are formally closed to new patients at almost one in ten Scottish practices, and the union’s warning that general practice in Scotland is in ‘a sustainability crisis,’ with almost a quarter of a million more patients than 10 years ago and almost 90 fewer GP practices.

Earlier this week, Dr Andrew Buist, who chairs the BMA’s Scottish GP committee, met with health secretary Michael Matheson to discuss pressures on general practice in Scotland.

After the meeting, he said: ‘We agreed on most things, that general practice is unstable, needs more resources.

‘The NHS is too focused on hospitals and does not meet patients core needs. Urgent action needed but he has no spare funding, I said the situation can only get worse until we change.’

Meanwhile, a new functionality is now available on GP systems in England to allow users to accurately record the methods of an appointment.

NHS England said that this will help improve how appointment data is recorded in general practice, and system users will now need to select one of the standardised method options for every appointment, including face to face (home visit or surgery), telephone or audio, video with audio, written (including online) and ‘not an appointment.’

Practices should refer to the individual guidance provided by their supplier for more details, it added.

At the start of the Covid pandemic, GP practices had been advised to switch to a system of ‘total triage’ however despite this came under fire from mainstream media outlets and NHS England itself for reducing face-to-face appointments.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

RAMAN PRABU 26 May, 2023 5:28 pm

This is somehow News! I am sure many many practices are doing this and it is the best way.
We have been doing only face face for over a year unless patient wants some advice.

Steve McOne 26 May, 2023 5:44 pm

Good for them! Let’s see if they keep it up through the winter.

Graham Moyse 26 May, 2023 7:42 pm

I have been working as a locum for 2 1/2 years having previously been a partner for 30 years. As a locum you see different ways of working and this practice have it right. One of the practices that I do frequent sessions for does essentially this and are coping far better than most other practices. Furthermore, the staff and patients love it. Good for them!

Bonglim Bong 26 May, 2023 11:18 pm

Do they mean face to face consultations as a default for anyone who wants an appointment – which loads of practices are already doing.
Or truly ONLY face to face appointments. So if someone has had an MSU and it has unexpectedly come back as positive – they get summoned in for a face to face appointment rather than called up with the result (which is a telephone consultation).

I suspect it is the former, which we and many practices have been doing for ages.

David Church 27 May, 2023 8:00 am

I do not believe this.
My patients seem to prefer I telephone them with results, rather than have to wait weeks for a F2F consultation just to ask if I even have the result yet, although I used to have a Partner who would get reception to call patients in to see me if he received a result – but would not tell patient what they were coming in for, which was very frustrating, as he didn’t tell me either!
Many of our patients live a couple of miles walk from the nearest bus-stop, for a 2-hourly bus service. Many live about 10 miles away.
Just imagine all the extra home visits they will have to do n rural area, just to tell results, and in bad weather, and what if it floods?
Nah, won’t work as headlined. They must mean no ‘booked’ telephone appointments at fixed times!

John Graham Munro 27 May, 2023 10:59 am

This Practice is way ahead of its time.

Anonymous 27 May, 2023 2:08 pm

Good for them. Telephone follow ups or results discussions should only be initiated by clinicians.

Dave Haddock 27 May, 2023 9:16 pm

Can I register as a patient with this Practice please?

paul cundy 28 May, 2023 9:39 pm

Dear David (Church),
I’d say this is a problem; “My patients seem to prefer I telephone them with results”. Of course they do, who wouldn’t want their bank manager ringing them daily with their balance? I am not going to phone everyone to tell them their result is normal. My bank doesn’t ring me to tell me I’m in credit. What we say is; “If a result is important we will contact you, if you hear nothing by [date] the you can assume its normal. if you want to know the result you can ring in. Lets not create work for ourselves. Lets do what’s necessary and safe, for them and us.
Paul C

David Church 30 May, 2023 2:42 pm

Yes, Paul, that is what i meant. They can get normal results (all assigned a normal comment on arrival if they are such) by phoning Reception at the advertised time (ie not in the morning when Reception are busy!). I am not going to insist a patient come in and lose a day’s work just for a routine thyroid dose adjustment. Anything significant, I will bring them in, but if I am able to catch them on phone, it is easier to do this myself than have them argue with Receptionist about waiting 2 weeks worrying what it is about.
I am also aware that an F2F appointment, if they are not in the waiting room, they have DNAd. A telephone appointment leaves me trying multiple times to phone them and sometimes getting no answer and not knowing if it is my fault, and what to do about it, so can actually take longer than the F2F! But at least a proportion, you know they will sit by the phone.