Everything is OK.
True, you might find it odd that we’ve been ordered to dig out the key to the waiting room doors and usher in all-comers despite there still being a pandemic on.
And, yes, it might seem strange that we’ve also been mandated to provide F2F consultations on demand, despite the official policy being the direct opposite of that until anti-GP columnists put us in the cross-hairs.
And, admittedly, you might be perplexed that we could have our appointments monitored to enforce adequate F2F provision, given that the modus operandi of the digital trailblazers long espoused by the likes of Mr Hancock is actually based on a remote-consulting future.
And, true, the insistence that e-consultations should be available out-of-hours seems both punitive and counter-contractual, and the rationale provided – that, otherwise, this would ‘reduce patient satisfaction’ – rings a bit hollow given that other things which are known to reduce patient satisfaction, like me taking a holiday or refusing to give antibiotics for colds, are not being centrally overridden, yet.
But, like I say, don’t worry. Because somehow, this rapidly-evolving, logic-inverting, terms-of-service-ignoring approach appears to work. I can explain this best by giving you the testimony of one of my own patients, reproduced here verbatim.
‘I felt a bit ill, so I tried ringing my surgery but I couldn’t get through, so I walked into reception and asked for a face-to-face appointment with my GP like they said in the papers, and after I filled out a form in the waiting room, the receptionist said I was being triaged to go home and send in an e-consultation, so I did that and the email reply said I was being signposted to a telephone appointment and when the doctor rang I said I wanted to be seen face-to-face, so he said come up to the surgery, so I did, and when I got there they checked my temperature and said I had a fever, so they told me to go home and ring 111 and when I did that, they advised me to ring my GP, but I couldn’t get through. Anyway, I feel better now.’
See? You might have been tempted to tell NHSE to SOP off. But actually it’s just a case of triaging harder.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/views/copperfield