With ‘unprecedented’ and ‘new normal’ being the words of the past 12 months, it almost gives me cheer knowing that some old habits remain – expecting GPs to answer each and every patient query.
Two news stories this week offered an annoyingly familiar feeling. First, patients in the four priority groups have been told to contact the health service if they haven’t yet received their vaccination yet. They should initially try the dedicated online service, or the dedicated phone line. That makes sense. But if they have no luck booking an appointment there, you guessed it, ‘people can also call their GP practice’.
With GPs providing by far the majority of the vaccinations, you’d have thought they would need work taking off them. Yet they can now expect all those that are struggling with the national services (which I’d guess would be a significant proportion) to inundate them with calls.
Despite the problems with this, there is at least some rationale for this, and it is vital all those groups do get their jab. But the same can’t be said for our second story: the vaccines minister directing patients to GPs for proof of vaccination if needed to go travelling.
This certainly won’t have the same effect as the call for the priority groups to get in touch if they haven’t had their vaccine. For a start, it is theoretical at this stage – no country has as yet called for a vaccine passport.
But it is certainly more egregious, fitting into the concept that GPs will help with each and every one of their patients’ needs. It is almost impressive that a minister with no background in health can pick up the habits of the Department of Health and Social Care so quickly. Some things never change.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.