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‘Your letter has caused upset and a clinical problem’

Sir Simon Stevens
15th September 2020
Chief Executive NHS England

Re: Letter to all GPs about Face to Face consultations

Dear Simon,

Your letter to GPs has caused both upset and a significant clinical problem.

You clearly directed GPs in April to provide online, telephone and video consultations and avoid face-to-face appointments unless absolutely necessary and the Secretary of State’s supported you in his pronouncement on the July of 30th, that GP appointments should be remote by default.

GPs like hospital doctors have worked flat out providing millions of appointments, including face-to-face, throughout the pandemic. They’ve responsibly followed instructions to prevent the spread of a deadly virus by limiting unnecessary contact between vulnerable patients and those who may be infectious mixing in the confined space of a waiting room. There has been virtually no spread of COVID in primary care settings as a result. 

As a result of your letter, GPs are all reporting patients putting pressure on primary care for face to face consultation when not clinically needed and this at a time when COVID spread is accelerating and we are facing the looming pressures of winter and flu. 

Let us make it clear that we would never accept anyone in the NHS not fulfilling their duties but to single out primary care with this sort of message has been undermining of all the amazing hard work of NHS staff under your leadership, at a time of rising incidence of Covid and the need to ask our overstretched workforce for yet more.  

Yours Sincerely, 

Sam and Jackie

Sir Sam Everington, Barrister, MBBS, MRCGP, OBE

Chair Tower Hamlets CCG

Dr Jackie Applebee MBBS, FRCGP, BSC

Chair of Tower Hamlets LMC


Anonymous 18 September, 2020 3:53 pm

Bravo. Shame on them.

Anonymous 18 September, 2020 4:36 pm

Excellent letter.

Lester Russell 18 September, 2020 5:26 pm

What happened to the clapping? Are we now just lazy GP again, who don’t want to actually see patients?

sally Gayer 19 September, 2020 9:36 am

Good letter.
I, and the rest of the team I work with, have worked so hard throughout the lockdown. We have spoken to thousands of patients ,have seen face to face those where needed, and video and phone also.It is much harder NOT to see a patient, and takes us longer.More risky for us as well in view of responsibility to the patient.
We have put ourselves and families at an increased risk of disease.
I cannot believe the media coverage that we are lazy and not seeing patients.
I already plan to retire in just over a year(55) because of the unrelenting demand and inadequate resources.
If there is a second wave I will simply go earlier in view of this.
Why doesn’t our union take action against slander?

Milos Lukic 19 September, 2020 10:46 am

I did a full time 30 year stretch and never had a day off sick apart from one 4 week spell after a major operation. This resulted in a decent pension pot allowing me to retire in my mid 50s just a few years ago and this was possible even after the major hit of a divorce pension sharing order about 15 years before retirement. Sir Simons letter reinforced my feeling that I can’t for the life of me fathom why any GP with 30+ years of pensionable service would still be working after 55. They must either have very little actual ‘Doctoring’ to do or if they do then they must be a glutton for punishment . If it’s neither of these maybe they have a very expensive lifestyle as from my experience it’s very easy to live on a index linked pension well above the average working persons income.

Keith Greenish 19 September, 2020 12:51 pm

Bravo Sir Sam, you speak for all grassroots GPs. Like our colleagues we have been quietly but responsibly bringing in patients and visiting at home where in our judgement it is clinically necessary, and not blindly following instructions from those who are far removed from the clinical arena

Martin Williams 19 September, 2020 10:53 pm

Lions lead by Donkeys. a loud Hee-haw to Boris, Door-Matt, Govey and backdoor Dominic.

Patrufini Duffy 21 September, 2020 2:45 pm

Direct. And honest. It was embarrassing.

Mohamed Mohamed 21 September, 2020 3:58 pm

As Copperfield said in one of his blogs:”After the clap comes the irritation”

Tim Atkinson 21 September, 2020 6:40 pm

I used to think the way NHSE , CQC and others interacted with GPs was simply because they were inept and ignorant. I am now beginning to believe in conspiracy rather than cock up.

Bob Hodges 23 September, 2020 10:51 am

Bravo. Gloucestershire LMC supports you 100%.

John Glasspool 25 September, 2020 6:02 pm

And what answer did you get?