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.