The Mail on Sunday has accused Pulse of ‘rabble-rousing’ over face-to-face appointments for patients.
In a piece which also heavily criticises GPs for airing their views on social media and urges them to quit Twitter, the newspaper claims there is a ‘hardcore minority’ who are digging in their heels by refusing to see patients face to face if needed.
The editorial by Mail on Sunday health editor Barney Calman claims that some GPs ‘will not be told’ that the shift to online consultations is causing harm and are sticking with phone or triage first.
It also condemns GPs for airing their views on social media with ‘ranty threads’ about political attacks and an overstretched system.
‘Occasionally, a civilian will pluck up the courage to post on one of these ranty threads something like: hang on a minute, my surgery has been welded shut since March 2020.
‘Doubtless, for every one of these, there are scores more patients, silently reading and thinking – how can I put this politely: how unpleasant these GPs are,’ the article reads.
The ‘hysterics’ are being led by the British Medical Association, and rabble-rousing GP magazine Pulse, the Mail on Sunday said.
It cites the Pulse investigation in February into media coverage of GPs and the June cover feature discussing how normal service is being forced on GPs.
In the latest feature, Pulse looks at the fallout from the NHS England letter sent on 13 May to GP practices which said ‘Practices should respect patient preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary’.
The Mail on Sunday comment piece, which is headlined ‘All you GP face-to-face refuseniks take note’, said GPs should reconsider what they post on social media given it is being read not just by colleagues but by their patients.
That goes for all the GPs who ‘seem so incandescent’ at NHS England’s ‘fairly reasonable’ edict that they should offer face-to-face appointments if a patient requests one, the piece continues.
‘Indeed, given the hysteria, you’d think they were being ordered to do something appalling – not just go back to a way of working a bit more like they did before Covid,’ writes Mr Calman.
The piece notes that eConsult demand is causing workload problems and that there is a shortage of GPs but it fails to note newly-updated Public Health England guidance which said GP practices should use virtual consultation ‘where possible’
‘No one is under any illusion that the situation was perfect before Covid. Primary care was already short of thousands of GPs, while patient numbers spiralled. But in the majority of letters we received, readers said the same thing: they had all been perfectly happy with their surgery until March 2020,’ the Mail writes.
Pulse editor Jaimie Kaffash said: ‘At Pulse, we have always prided ourselves on being the voice for GPs who are often badly affected by negative coverage in some parts of the media. We will continue to be so, and we will continue to speak up for overworked GPs who always put patients at the heart of their decision-making.’