This site is intended for health professionals only


NHS England pledges to support GPs and patients as Covid restrictions ease


GP attacks


NHS England is working on plans to help manage growing GP workload in a way that will also ‘make sense to patients, its primary care director has signalled.

In a webinar on Thursday evening, Dr Nikki Kanani said NHS England will soon publish an updated standard operating procedure to help practices ‘open up in the right way and safely’ as Covid restrictions continue to ease.

The promises come as Dr Kanani also penned an open letter in the Telegraph on Friday, defending GPs against claims that practices have been closed to patients during the pandemic.

In the webinar, Dr Kanani GPs admitted to GPs that there will be ‘a big hill for us to climb over the coming months’ as lockdown eases and ‘people will start coming forward.

She said: ‘I think we’re already seeing it in general practice particularly where people have sat on things for the last year and are coming forward and we are definitely feeling that.’

Again acknowledging ‘the pressure’ practices have been working under, she added: ‘We are trying to understand what we can do to support, to make sure that we continue to deliver services in a sustainable way for practices but also in a way that makes sense for patients as well. 

‘We know that we can see things on both sides of the fence.’

According to Dr Kanani, NHS England’s plan is ‘to help make sure that patients get the care they need and you are supported in offering it’.

The news comes recent data revealed GPs saw more patients in March than in any other month since records began with the BMA saying this validates GP warnings that they are busier than ever.

NHS England’s webinar also raised GPs’ concern at a long-running narrative in mainstream media that GP practices have been ‘closed’ to patients during the pandemic.

Dr Kanani told GPs that NHS England has a ‘wider communications and media plan to help mythbust that awful line [that] general practice is not open’.

Putting this in practice, Dr Kanani today had an open letter to the editor published in the Telegraph, refuting claims by columnist Alison Pearson that non-Covid appointments have not been available to patients.

She wrote: ‘The NHS is not, nor has it ever been, a Covid-only service. GP appointments have been available throughout the pandemic.’

She went onto argue that ‘it was right, to cut the chances of catching Covid and protect our patients and workforce, that some NHS appointments had to take place online’. 

But she added that ‘appointments continued to be conducted in person and patients who need to see a doctor face-to-face should always be given this option’.

Her letter said: ‘Everyone working in primary care remains committed to ensuring face-to-face appointments continue to be offered. They are at the heart of what we do.’

GP access caused controversy in the autumn amid suggestions that practices were not ‘open’ and ‘GP-bashing’ in the media.

And in September, NHS England landed itself in hot water with a previous ‘reminder’ to practices to offer face-to-face consultations despite the ongoing pandemic and its own ‘total triage’ advice.

In November, Dr Kanani promised delegates at Pulse Live that NHSE ‘can and will do more’ to tell the public GP practices are open. Meanwhile, NHS England said last month that GPs should continue to triage patients remotely and there are currently no plans for when the approach will end.

READERS' COMMENTS [16]

John Graham Munro 7 May, 2021 10:44 pm

Have to agree with Alison Pearson

Mr Marvellous 8 May, 2021 3:30 pm

Thanks for letting me know John. I can safely disregard anything you write in the future.

ex partner 8 May, 2021 3:46 pm

I have to say something needs to change.OOH shift today was a stream of parents with babies who couldn’t seem to get any help from GP practices or health visitors.
Covid hotline when doing was equally full of people who couldn’t make it through the various algorithms to jump through to talk to a doctor about quite concerning symptoms.
A patient today when I asked if he talked to his GP about his symptoms starting some weeks ago commented that ‘they abandoned us long ago’
I’m no fan of Alison Pearson but this system certainly isn’t working – but if you only work in hours you might not see who is slipping through the net

The Prime Minister 8 May, 2021 5:55 pm

THE DAILY TOOL AND THE DAILY B’STARD ARE PROPAGANDA MACHINES THAT DIVERT ATTENTION FROM THE GOVERNMENT’S CRIMINAL MISMANAGEMENT OF COVID AND INSTEAD PIN THE BLAME ON GPs. IN RETURN FOR PUMPING OUT THIS SHITE THEY ARE EXCUSED THE PROPER REGULATION THAT THE PUBLIC DESERVE. IT IS A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP.
THING IS THIS CONSTANT ATTACK ON GPs IS DAMAGING TO SOCIETY, BUT OF COURSE THE GOVERNMENT ONLY CARE ABOUT VOTES AND POWER RATHER THAN THE PUBLIC…..WHAT A SAD STATE OF AFFAIRS.
KANANI SHOULD DEMAND A PUBLIC APOLOGY FROM THE DAILY B’STARD AND THE DAILY TOOL BUT THEY CAN’T NOW APOLOGISE OTHERWISE THEIR PACK OF LIES WILL BE EXPOSED

John Graham Munro 9 May, 2021 9:27 pm

Mr. Marvellous——–Will try harder in future

Robert Caudwell 10 May, 2021 10:50 am

ex partner – or you might be working 12 hour days meeting as much of the demand as you can, but still not able to deal with the tsunami of work that is hitting us

David Riley 10 May, 2021 11:16 am

I find it very sad that members of the medical profession are too scared or embarrassed to put their real name by comments which are frequently written in an unprofessional way.

Merlin Wyltt 10 May, 2021 11:38 am

I agree with the Mail on Sunday

“The Mail on Sunday today launches an urgent campaign to demand that all patients are once again seen face-to-face by their GPs.
The new regime has led to vast swathes of patients feeling all but abandoned by their family doctors, according to more than 1,000 letters and emails received by this newspaper over the past eight months.”

Paul Attwood 10 May, 2021 12:25 pm

David Riley, “medical profession are too scared?” And pray why do you think that is? The GMC and the NHSE take a seemingly great delight in keeping the troops in line. I, fortunately can stick the finger(s) up to both but only because I am out of the rat race.

Remember the NHSE is NOT your friend. It says “supportive” political sound bites whilst at the same time pressing the knife to the collective GP body. Previous posters need to be reminded, it seems, that the Daily Wail is not your friend either.

Unless you take hold of this soon gentlemen (& ladies) GP (NHS) is going to become an irrelevance. Already I see adverts for private GP services in my (well off) locality. It will end not with a bang but a whimper as people start to accept payment is the way.

Patrufini Duffy 10 May, 2021 3:40 pm

“We know that we can see things on both sides of the fence”.

Well – the thing is, you can see everything when there’s no fence; it’s all free,
all urgent and all complainers. GPs are treating trivia, anxiety and behaviour, not disease. *I would re-read that last sentence I wrote carefully. An infinite problem, no solutions, because you won’t want to reiterate the 16-page honest dossier.

Mr Marvellous 10 May, 2021 3:49 pm

People used to moan about access long before Covid. The bottom line is that daytime GP was not resourced properly BEFORE 2019. Yes, if you work in OOH it’s a stream of people that couldn’t see their GP. It was ever the case.

It doesn’t mean that daytime GPs aren’t working hard – all of the metrics confirm this.

Luqman Rajput 11 May, 2021 10:31 am

I would love to know exactly how would they support the general practice, a chocolate fireguard does a better job at supporting us.

Patrufini Duffy 11 May, 2021 10:04 pm

I’ll tell you how they aim to help you – *by advising the 80 million public to call and see “your” GP ASAP for anything remotely worrying. Essentially an extension of free disocial care where the priest ran away, police went undercover and lollipop lady said no thankyou.

Dave Haddock 13 May, 2021 9:26 am

Remember the plastic bag tax? A trivial charge hugely reduced use.
Perhaps half of all my appointments are for nonsense, despite twenty years of “patient education” and no doubt many other surgeries are similarly afflicted.
GPs need more funding and less work; the solution is obvious.

John Evans 13 May, 2021 12:01 pm

I assume that by “support” they mean to help you stand up whilst they slowly choke you – rather than simply strangling you on the floor!

For as along as I can remember, the excuse to accept what we are given has been – “it could have been worse”. Be grateful for the punch in the face, it could have been a kick. I always wondered why we didn’t defend ourselves properly.

nasir hannan 14 May, 2021 10:27 am

Out of hours will provide approximately 40 to 50 slots in a shift covering almost 50 practices. Each practice is providing 2-300 appointments per day. Multiply that by 50 and we see that general practice is probably providing over 10000 in the same time period in an area. Whilst I do massively value out of hours and I work in it, please put this in context.