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In full: NHS England’s press release about face-to-face GP consultations

DAUK to appeal IPSO ruling regarding GP-bashing Mail article

NEWS RELEASE (sent by NHS England’s press office Friday 11 September)


Ensure Patients Can Access Face to Face Care, GPs Reminded

GP practices must make sure patients can access face to face appointments when they need them, NHS England said today.

A letter sent to all GP practices asked practices to ensure they have made clear through communication with the public – whether online or through verbal conversations – that face to face appointments continue to be on offer, where clinically appropriate, in addition to video and phone consultations.

Between March to July NHS Digital estimated that there were 102 million appointments in general practice, half of which were recorded over the phone or through video calls. And research suggests that almost two thirds of the public are happy to have a GP consultation remotely.

But the NHS want to ensure that ahead of winter, the public know they can continue to see their GP in a local surgery if appropriate.

Patients will continue to need to call ahead or visit the practice website for an appointment before attending.

Medical Director of Primary Care for NHS England Nikki Kanani said:

“The last few months has seen general practice playing a vital role in the fight against coronavirus, adapting quickly to significantly increase the availability of video and phone consultations and offer safe face to face care when needed.

“While many people, particularly those most vulnerable to Covid-19 want the convenience of a consultation over the phone or video, the NHS has been and will continue to offer face to face appointments and I would urge anyone who feels they need medical support to come forward so they can get the care, support and advice they need – the NHS is here for you.”

The letter also provides GP surgeries with a communications toolkit to support them in highlighting their practice availability with their local population.

Practices were also reminded that they face enforcement action if they fail to offer clinically indicated face to face appointments to patients.

The RCGP recently announced that GP practices operating mostly remote appointments will not be meeting the needs of patients and confirmed the need to build on the increase in access to face to face appointments that the majority of GP practices are now delivering.

The letter comes after the NHS previously wrote out to all practices on 31st July to say that failure to offer appropriate face to face appointments at their surgeries, in addition to remote triage and video, online and telephone consultation, is considered a breach of their contract.


A IPSOS Mori poll for the King’s Fund found 63% of the public would be happy to have their GP consultation over video.



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

Anonymous 17 September, 2020 5:29 pm

Please please could the government and NHSE publicly acknowledge that GP practices are working flat out to try to triage and appropriately assess everyone, as well as picking up shed-loads of extra work from secondary care. The general public seem to think we have shut up shop and retreated to our homes to make a few phone calls each day. The number of times a patient says to me ‘I know you are not seeing anyone but…..’. We have been seeing patients throughout the pandemic. 25 % of our staff are positive for Covid antibodies. We are simply doing our best in extraordinary circumstances and we really need some encouragement to keep going (I don’t mean that clapping rubbish…just a bit less moaning and bit more patience and understanding).

Anonymous 17 September, 2020 5:48 pm

I was prepared to accept that the controversy was the the result of media spin – until I saw the actual words of the press release that was sent out in advance of the letter.

Anonymous 18 September, 2020 8:27 am

Press release before informing the GPs shows you how NHSE treats us. I’ll like them to do another press release admitting their error and reflect on it.
Fancy telling us to do online consulting and shooting us in the back later.

Anonymous 18 September, 2020 11:32 am

Will Pulse be submitting a “Correction” regarding the Headline “BMA calls for adequate PPE after at least 34 doctors died” which also misleads and misinforms?

Just a thought, if the writers/editors of that peice wanted a job they could always apply to the Daily Mail?? it would take pride of place on a CV

Simon Fellerman 20 September, 2020 12:05 pm

When I was working in general practice I thought I was doing a good job and providing a decent service. I am now on the other side of the fence and my views are the polar opposite.
GPs would be well advised to ask their relatives and friends what it’s like to try and access primary care. They may be surprised at the responses.
GP access is a complete shambles and impossible to navigate for a very sizeable number of people.

Mark Howson 22 September, 2020 12:07 pm

Simon Fellerman. I am a GP and think we provide a pretty good service. I also need to see my GP sometimes having had a CABG and having DMII and have never had any problem getting through or getting an appointment. I am sure there are worse practices and better practices out there but I have never had a problem. The satisfaction rate for access is usually over 75%. There will always be people who are not satisfied even with an easy access free service. And there will be poorer practices. My advice is if not happy just move. Interestingly my friends and family are always complaining about access to me but I think this is just a reflection of reality v expectations. They expect immediate response now and are not prepared to wait a little for their free easy access service.
I am always amazed that they want to see a GP for a sniffle right now ( of course this is actually a minority- most people are sensible we just rarely see the majority) but happy to wait two months to see the hospital medic for more serious problems.

Reply moderated
Patrufini Duffy 23 September, 2020 2:53 pm

Akin to a roll of Andrex. Written by kids.

Edmund Willis 23 September, 2020 6:24 pm

So GPs have been working flat out have they and been doing a lot of f2fs.

So how come Locums have been really struggling to get work even in grossly underdoctored areas, and Patients have been unable to get through on the phone partly because of excruciatingly long ‘ if you have a cough or fever etc etc ring 111’ messages. My experience has been that practices have been very quiet both for phone and f2f appointments, and some doctors have done hardly any f2fs despite lacking a good reason. Obviously there will be practices that have been more ‘open’ and accessible but I am afraid that there is some degree of truth behind the accusations

Dermot Ryan 24 September, 2020 8:01 am

Have NHSE not heard the plaintive cries of Matt Handcock that F2F should be the exception rather than the rule? Yet another example of flawed thinking and leadership.