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Where’s the evidence?

Cast your mind back to the heady days of 2018 when the Government announced that GPs in A&E would save the NHS over winter. If nothing else, it was fantastic news that we had this untapped source of GPs growing on trees.

At the time, NHS England suggested that every A&E in the country would benefit. Then everyone forgot all about it.

Now this zombie policy has reared its head again. The Government has said that they are expanding the programme, after finding that 10% of A&E patients are diverted to the GP streaming service.

How many GP hours were spent in A&E that could’ve been spent in the practice? 

Yet they won’t release this evidence, leaving us all with serious questions. How many GP hours were spent in A&E that could’ve been spent in the practice? How much did it cost? What does 10% mean in this context? Were they patients who would otherwise have attended A&E or did this streaming service simply increase demand? And, most importantly, how many of the ‘6,000 new GPs’ will go towards A&E streaming? We may never know.

But this is typical of this Government’s thinking. It sounds good, so let’s go with it. Artificial intelligence, additional roles, video consultations, networks – all policies announced with glee, but with no tangible evidence to support it.

Like the other schemes, GPs in A&E may actually work. But all we have now is the Government’s word for it. This is no way to run health policy.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at