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CQC: No evidence that remote GP consultations increase A&E attendance

CQC: No evidence that remote GP consultations increase A&E attendance

The increase in the number of remote GP consultations during the Covid-19 pandemic has not appeared to increase A&E attendances, according to the CQC.

The regulatory body discussed concerns about access to GP services during its September meeting, including the suggestion that the increase in remote consultations and a perceived lack of face-to-face appointments were potentially leading to ‘increased attendance at A&E’.

However, chief inspector Rosie Benneyworth has confirmed that – having looked into this – the organisation has ‘not seen evidence’ to suggest a link between the two.

Despite this, she noted ‘anecdotal concern’ about people attending A&E departments if they ‘feel their needs are not being met elsewhere’.

GPs have faced media criticism in the past few months for the perception that they have are failing to provide face-to-face appointments, with some believing that patients attend A&E as a result.

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Minutes from the September CQC board meeting said: ‘Concerns about access to GP services were… discussed, including the suggestion that digital appointments were not meeting the needs of some patients and how this could potentially lead to increased attendance at A&E. Work to quantify the extent of the problem and to monitor it was underway.’

But Dr Benneyworth told Pulse this week: ‘While there may be some anecdotal concern about people attending Emergency Department (ED) if they feel their needs are not being met elsewhere, we have not seen evidence to suggest a link between digital appointments and ED attendance. The latest figures also show there has not been a sharp rise in online/video appointments (according to NHS Digital they are not currently at pre-Covid-19 levels).

‘As ever, we want to make sure that everyone has access to high quality primary care and we will continue to look at access as part of our monitoring. GPs are working tirelessly and providing hundreds of thousands of face-to-face appointments a day, alongside a mix of telephone and video consultations.’

The CQC has previously highlighted the need for face-to-face and remote consultations to take place within general practice.

Its State of Care report this year referenced Healthwatch’s ‘The Doctor Will Zoom You Now’, stating: ‘Key to a successful shift to remote consultations will be understanding which approach is the right one based on individual need and circumstance. A blended offer, including text, phone, video, email and in person would provide the best solution’.

Responding to media criticism last month, the RCGP drew on its data to stress that nearly half (45%) of consultations within general practice are now being conducted face to face – a figure that health secretary Matt Hancock would like to see maintained.



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

David jenkins 8 December, 2020 11:44 am

cqc would say that wouldn’t they ?

if you couldn’t see a doctor when you “perceved yourself to be ill”, what would you do ?

1 – say “ah well, doctor knows best – even though he’s on the phone and can’t actually see how ill i am”………..or
2 – phone 999 and give them an (exaggerated or souped-up version) of your symptoms to ensure that when you arrived in a meat wagon, a/e would assume you were ill enough to actually look at you ?

i know what most of joe public would do !

once again, this is cqc trying to massage the figures to keep their political puppetmasters happy, and ensure their own gravy train (sorry, salary) keeps rolling.


IDGAF . 8 December, 2020 12:45 pm

Evidence derives from how you look at the matter, and the definitions you use. Is it conceivable that patients just ended up suffering at home because they were scared sh##less of attending A+E because of covid 19 whilst feeling under-served by remote consulting? I think I will have to put my fingers in my own ears and start wailing “Na na na na” to drown out the inner voice which is giving form to the question above. The strategy has worked for the good Dr Benneyworth.

Patrufini Duffy 8 December, 2020 4:29 pm

Er, it is the General Practice that bailed out hospitals, and saved A+E from ruin. As a research project, let’s refer everyone, max out 2ww referrals for a laugh and close our doors like they said we were doing and let’s see what happens. Hopefully NHSE will be happy with their return to activity data.

David Church 31 December, 2020 8:29 pm

On the contrary, as an experienced A&E, MIU, and GP doctor, I used remote consultations in GP during the pandemic to reduce A&E attendances, by repeat remote consultations if necessary!
Though I did have the usual conversation :” I think this patient is ill, please can I send her in/”
“What is wrong?, Waht’s the pulse/bp/oxygen sats?”
“Well, I can’t find enything wrong, but I think she is ill. She is comfortalel, painfree, walks normally, no fever, sat up, tallking to me quite clearly, chest clear, abdo normal, maybe a little pale, pulse good, strong, regular, sats 99% (wow, mine is only 95), but I didn’t do Bp or bloods today, as it’s late, and I still want to send her in pretty please”
Next day “where is she?” Ans : in ITU on dialysis, Hb43 (4.3 in old money)!