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NHSE bosses admit GPs working ‘well beyond’ pre-pandemic levels


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NHS England has said GPs are delivering ‘well beyond’ pre-pandemic activity levels and are busier than ever – at the same time as it prepares to introduce a target on GP appointments.

NHSE chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard and national director for primary care Ian Dodge made the comments the same day NHS England published a new set of metrics aimed at ensuring GP practices deliver appointments ‘at or above’ pre-pandemic levels in 2021/22.

Speaking at an NHS England board meeting on 24 June, Ms Pritchard said the body owed a ‘really big thank you’ to those working in primary care who are ‘working at an astonishing rate at the moment’.

She added that primary care staff ‘are working now well beyond pre-Covid levels of activity’, including their ‘significant contribution’ to the vaccination programme as well as sitting ‘at the heart of’ recovering elective care, prevention, supporting those with chronic conditions and preventing demand reaching urgent and emergency care.

Ms Pritchard also commended the ‘really excellent work’ done by primary and community care staff in keeping people ‘well looked after out of hospitals’ amid ‘comparatively low levels’ of Covid-related hospitalisations.

However, she added that NHS England must ‘keep a very close eye on [this] over the course of the next few weeks and months to make sure that the NHS is as resilient as we need it to be’.

Mr Dodge later added that ‘it has never been busier’ in general practice. He said: ‘Our colleagues in general practice have been working incredibly hard on the vaccination programme, continuing to offer urgent care and access through a variety of different modalities and now focussing on the backlog of chronic disease management as well as other preventative services.’

He added that while PCNs had successfully hired 9,100 full-time equivalent staff under the additional roles scheme ‘ahead of schedule’ by the end of March last year, general practice ‘will need all the capacity we can get’.

But NHS England documents published on the same day said that practices will be assessed by ICSs – which are due to take over from CCGs from April 2022 – on the number of available GP appointments and access to remote consultations.

They set out a target for ‘all general practices to be delivering at, or above, pre-pandemic appointment levels, including through consolidating and maximising the use of digital consultation methods and technology’ in 2021/22.

In its latest GP Committee bulletin, the BMA said it was ‘pleased to hear some acknowledgement and praise for the significant activity and related workload pressures in general practice in the NHSE/Improvement board meeting’.

However, it condemned the new target, saying that the goal should be for GPs to do ‘fewer not more appointments’ and called for the metric to be replaced with one on GP recruitment.

It said: ‘As we’ve repeatedly highlighted, the Government and NHSE/I are failing abysmally to deliver on another Government commitment of an increase in 6,000 GPs. 

‘If they were serious about both improving the workforce’s wellbeing and the quality of care for patients, they’d be setting this as the metric for general practice, not the narrow and misguided focus on appointment numbers.’

It added: ‘This is their target, not ours, and whilst including the appointments done by the additional PCN-related workforce will mean this is delivered, what we all know is needed is for individual workload pressures to be reduced, and rather than suggesting we all work harder the goal should be for GPs to do fewer not more appointments.

‘Given the current state of general practice, with workload and appointments being at an all-time high, the impact of the ongoing respiratory epidemic across the country, alongside rising Covid cases, NHS care backlog and other patients who have not come forward during the pandemic now coming forward, we would again advise practices to meet the reasonable needs of their patients in line with their contracts.’

It comes as the latest GP appointment figures demonstrated the ‘immense pressures’ GP practices are under, with practices in England carrying out 31.5 million recorded patient appointments in April.

Meanwhile, the BMA has met with a health minister to call for a further delay to the introduction of new primary care network (PCN) services that are due to begin from this autumn, citing the additional workload pressures they will bring.

NHS England issued guidance to practices in May that said GPs’ patients should be offered face-to-face appointments if that is their preference. The advice was contradicted by Public Health England guidance published around the same time that stated GP practices should use virtual consultation ‘where possible’.

READERS' COMMENTS [18]

The Prime Minister 8 July, 2021 10:36 am

WHY DON’T THESE TARGETS APPLY TO SECONDARY CARE……WHO ARE DOING FAR FEWER CONSULTATIONS…..IF YOU WANT MORE GPS AND MORE APPOINTMENTS THEN MAYBE STOP TERRORISING THE EXISTING GPS.

Turn out The Lights 8 July, 2021 11:20 am

If they want to increase work pay per item some will do more some will do less.The price will reflect demand and NHSE/HMG will have a stake in reducing demand rather than the ever rotating round about for work work for less and the subsequent loss of the workforce as they get more and more burnt out as they stoke up increasing demand.

Patrufini Duffy 8 July, 2021 1:03 pm

No one gives a faecal load.
“Resilience” – has become a dirty word. As does “thank you for your efforts”. No one’s thanking you for seeing more, period.

Chris GP 8 July, 2021 1:37 pm

“she added that NHS England must ‘keep a very close eye on [this] over the course of the next few weeks and months to make sure that the NHS is as resilient as we need it to be”….and you are doing that by flogging bullying and demoralising the individuals that have been until now the ONLY reason you have been able to keep the NHS afloat for so long on such a shoestring?
I.D.I.O.T.

John Graham Munro 8 July, 2021 3:34 pm

There’s another epidemic sweeping across Britain—-like alcoholism, drug abuse, and obesity it is self inflicted and, moreover self destructive——ALTRUISM—–however, there are many work shy G.Ps who are immune to this condition—–nevertheless all four are eminently treatable for those affected——as I’ve repeatedly said, ”enough is enough”—–do your allotted hours then go home—–but that clown Boris and his circus know you won’t —will you?——eventually you will find yourself in the local psychiatric unit, stressed out—-still wondering where it all went wrong

The Prime Minister 8 July, 2021 4:02 pm

Dr Munro……your name does NOT appear on the GMC register………..who are you really ??? be honest and take the plunge…….

The Prime Minister 8 July, 2021 4:09 pm

AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE IT SAYS “THIS SITE IS INTENDED FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS ONLY”…….SO WHY DO PULSE ALLOW DAILY NUTTER JOURNALISTS IMPERSONATING GPs ACCESS TO THE SITE………IT UNDERMINES THE ON-LINE MAGAZINE……YES IT MAKES FOR MORE INTERESTING READING WHEN THESE SIMPLETONS AND GOVERNMENT PUPPETS START SLAGGING OFF GPs BUT IF ULTIMATELY DEGRADES AND HUMILIATES THOSE WHO WORK SO HARD TO RUN THE PAPER….SO PLEASE KICK OUT THE FAKE GPs……

The Prime Minister 8 July, 2021 4:27 pm

NEW CAMPAIGN *******KICK OUT THE DAILY NUTTER JOURNALISTS********

WHEN GENERAL PRACTICE COLLAPSES THERE SHOULD BE CRIMINAL CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST THESE JOURNALISTS FOR “CORPORATE MANSLAUGHTER” AND THEY SHOULD BE PUBLICALLY NAMED AND SHAMED FOR HARMING PATIENT CARE…..

David jenkins 8 July, 2021 4:37 pm

who is GMC number 1233032 ?
i think we should be told !

Vinci Ho 8 July, 2021 4:43 pm

‘’Ms Pritchard said the body owed a ‘really big thank you’ to those working in primary care who are ‘working at an astonishing rate at the moment’.’’

So , that is all you owed us . Now you had said ‘thank you’ . That is it ,isn’t it ? You now ‘owe’ us anything. Clever girl 😈
The political reality is BMA/GPC and NHE/I are locked in a Mexican standoff. Are you bothered to say or do anything?👿

Vinci Ho 8 July, 2021 4:44 pm

Correction
….you now ‘owe’ us nothing

The Prime Minister 8 July, 2021 5:04 pm

THEY ALL GIVE GMC NUMBER 12345678910…… WITH A V-SIGN……GET RID OF FAKE GPs……THIS IS GETTING BLOODY RIDICULOUS…….

John Graham Munro 8 July, 2021 7:57 pm

To The Prime Minister———–You ask me who I am when you hide behind a pseudonym

To David Jenkins———yr meddwl eich bod chi ar fy ochr

The Prime Minister 8 July, 2021 10:20 pm

A pseudonym is preferable than an attempt at a fake GP name……people think that is your actual name and that you are a real GP……I doubt they actually think I am the Prime Minister………do you?

The Daily Nutter is a moronic, bigoted, insulting, depraved and offensive media outlet and those who pump out the detritus of this media outlet should be ashamed of their conduct……but sadly depravity is a bottomless pit these days……..

Vinci Ho 9 July, 2021 7:07 am

Interesting
(1)As a person who have been ‘moaning’ on this platform for over 10, or even perhaps 15(Jaime can verify that ) , years on this platform , I have seen ‘comment providers’ (as well as three generations of Pulse editors ) coming and going . ‘Madangate’ was probably an eye-opener But , in fact , when you have a open forum( well , at least , before we moved to GMC registered ‘membership’), you cannot stop your ‘enemies’ trying to penetrate the platform because this is one of the western values namely , freedom of speech and expression. As a human being born in Hong Kong , I can only feel the pain when something you thought was ‘naturally available’ was suddenly taken away from you . 😔
(2) Somehow , I remain as the sad bas***d veteran carrying on writing in here . It is a honour to be here , thanks to the editors . Jaime , there are reasons why Pulse had been so successful, thanks to you guys . The reality of journalism these days is you are always up against competitors who will use all kinds of means to wrestle(and even assault) with you . Faked news, hacking , spying etc ; Journalism and politics are simply inseparable 😈
(3)”If I had to choose between government without newspapers and newspapers without government , I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter”
Thomas Jefferson
Well , we have a 21st century of ‘newspapers’ clearly 😎

Christine Drury 9 July, 2021 7:40 am

.

Wayne Davis 9 July, 2021 10:26 am

Now that GPs have demonstrated that they’re capable of doing even more work (never mind that this was selfless going above and beyond the call of duty during the pandemic) NHSE now require this as standard; and as an extra bonus will raise the targets even higher. Modern day slavery

John Graham Munro 9 July, 2021 3:03 pm

Mrs. Jellyby———-Charles Dickens (Bleak House)