NEWS RELEASE (sent by NHS England’s press office Friday 11 September)
EMBARGOED 00:01 MONDAY 14 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.