NHS England’s director of primary care has asked the public to ‘be patient’ with GPs while they focus on Covid vaccinations over the coming weeks.
Dr Nikki Kanani’s comments came after the Government asked GPs to prioritise booster vaccinations above all routine care until 31 December.
Speaking alongside the Prime Minister and chief medical officer at a Downing Street press conference yesterday, she said she wanted to ‘reassure’ patients that GP teams ‘will also protect urgent and life saving care alongside cancer care’.
But she said that as GPs ‘will be vaccinating more again’, patients should ‘be patient with your NHS and with your general practice teams, because they’re trying to do everything to protect you as quickly as possible’.
She added: ‘My thanks of course need to go to our NHS and voluntary teams who once again are pulling out all the stops. I know that you’re tired, I know that this feels hard, but I also know that you can do it.’
NHS England has urged any PCN not signed up to give Covid boosters to ‘urgently reconsider participation’ and it has said GPs will be ‘compensated appropriately’ to run vaccination clinics over the Christmas period bank holidays.
However, GPs are still awaiting detailed advice from NHS England, BMA and RCGP regarding remuneration and clinical prioritisation.
Also speaking at Wednesday’s Covid briefing, CMO Professor Chris Whitty warned that the expected ‘sharp peak’ in Covid cases caused by the current wave of the Omicron variant would lead to staff shortages in the NHS.
He said: ‘There will be significant problems of people actually providing staff, to man and to generally be able to look after any part of the health and social care system.’