This week I appeared for the second time on the Downing Street Covid briefing. And for the second time, the health secretary completely failed to answer my question.
Fear not, I have enough life experience – ie, I’ve watched the news at least once – to know that a politician will do their utmost to avoid answering a question. But this was galling. Because mine was a question that desperately needed answering.
If you missed it, I asked what non urgent work he will be removing from GPs to free up time for them to carry out the Covid vaccination programme, the biggest ever (surpassing the previous biggest programme ever, the current flu programme that GPs are already doing). In response, we got the usual platitudes, thanking GPs and their teams. But no indication of any actual changes.
Although expected, it was disappointing and further proof that nothing will change. GPs will simply have to fit this vaccination programme within their current workload – an understandably impossible job for some.
The importance of this vaccine means it is the priority. But the BMA and NHS England have to start with the messaging to patients now: there will be fewer appointments, that GPs won’t be able to manage your long-term condition as they would ideally like to and that you might be offered a remote consultation instead of a face to face. And make clear that this is the price of GPs saving the nation.
Because I tell you one thing – you can’t rely on Matt Hancock to send this message once patients start complaining, despite his meaningless platitudes this week.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.