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Old habits die hard

Old habits die hard

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



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Andrew Jackson 11 February, 2021 11:52 am

we should have a nationally agreed fee for printing off the 2 entries in the notes similar to a national passport fee
it will be a significant amount of money for a practice even if priced fairly and will only be paid by those who have the means to go holiday
it would help manage the media backlash over this

Simon Gilbert 11 February, 2021 12:49 pm

I don’t mind out patients contacting us if over 70 and expecting a jab – some of our patients have old phone numbers or have moved out of their usual home for the lockdown so have missed invitations. In fact the previous NHS letter to them confuses matters by saying not to contact the GP, when we happen to have vaccines and capacity available for these cohorts at short notice.

Simon Gilbert 11 February, 2021 12:49 pm

(typo ‘our patients’ not ‘out patients’)

Patrufini Duffy 11 February, 2021 3:23 pm

The Government have fantastically realised. That the more the patient sticks around you, your phone lines, your room, your building and your demoralised team, the more you will clean up in British society. Genius. And more to come via your PCN voluntary opt-in.
I need a new mop.