‘It is high time GPs started operating in the way they did before the pandemic…we intend to do a lot more about it…we are trying to do so by agreement at this point’.
You’d treat Sajid Javid’s: ‘Look how tough I am’ comments with the yawn they deserve were it not for that sign-off. ‘At this point’. That’s not a veiled threat. It’s not even a threat. It’s a promise. Which will presumably at some point force us to guarantee a defined percentage of appointments as F2F, just as they’ve previously mandated slot space to 111 and online.
Well, come and have a go if you’re hard enough, health sec. Because we can have some fun with this. For a start, we will count all flu jabs, booked or walk-in, as F2F, even if they take one minute and are actually face-to-arm. That’ll soon push the percentage up.
Then we’ll scrap all online consulting channels, because that will achieve the same, albeit by reducing the total available appointments rather than increasing the F2F provision.
And so on, as silly-bugger nauseam, until, say, we decide to restrict appointments to two per day, one being F2F, and that being purely for QOF purposes.
If that’s not enough to cheer us up consider this. The new obsession with F2F will leave Matt Hancock’s half-cocked digital primary care vision, and the business model of various digital-first primary care providers, frozen in time like an aborted Zoom meeting.
Besides, I’m not clear how this threat can be implemented. There’s nothing in our standard or PCN contract mandating F2F, and the days of micromanagement by SOP are long gone.
Maybe Mr Javid will try to impose it regardless. In which case, the fury of GPs being forced into upheaval to resolve a crisis largely created and fuelled by an anti-GP media will be something to see. A resignation issue? Not at this point.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/views/copperfield