There’s only one issue to discuss this week – that letter.
The letter from NHS England ‘reminded’ GPs that they should be seeing patients face to face. You don’t need me to tell you that this is already happening. But the insight I can provide is on why NHS England decided to send this out.
I don’t think there is any question that the letter made no positive difference to GPs. There is not a single one in England who would have read it and said ‘damn, I completely forgot about the face-to-face part of the job, I’d better rectify that ASAP’. All it did was infuriate and demoralise GPs who have been performing under immense pressure and are now facing more demand than ever.
But, despite being addressed to practices, it wasn’t designed for GPs. And I strongly suspect – just as the addressees were a red herring – this did not come from the primary care team, who would know there is no good to be gained from this letter.
No, this letter was a comms exercise, designed for the likes of Allison Pearson, those columnists with huge followings who are claiming that general practice is closed.
We received an embargoed press release on Friday, alerting us and the other media to the letter. This was deliberate, telling primarily the reactionary elements of the media (and, only tangentially, patients) ‘we are on your side’ – even if your side’s argument has no basis whatsoever.
The ramifications of this will be long lasting. This has effectively sacrificed the goodwill of GPs for some easy headlines. And NHS England may come to regret this when they are appealing to GPs this winter.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.