The Government has announced £250 million extra funding which will allow GP surgeries to increase capacity over the coming months and GPs will be told they must “respect preferences” of patients who want face-to-face care from their surgery. The coronavirus crisis led many GPs appointments to be moved online in order to hamper the spread of the virus – and is a practice still continuing in many surgeries.
The latest monthly data showed that only 58 percent of appointments took place in surgeries – a fall from 80 percent of all consultations before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding will only be eligible to practices that give appropriate levels of face-to-face appointments.
GP appointment data will be published at practice level by spring – so people will be able to see how well their surgery performs compared to others. The NHS said this will “enhance transparency and accountability”.
Sources in Whitehall have also confirmed the open data policy will lead to the creation of league tables, with the worst-performing practices available for the public to see.
The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) called on the Government to fulfil its manifesto pledge of an additional 6,000 GPs and 26,000 other primary care professionals in the workforce by 2024 – a target that is highly likely to be missed.
Some groups of GPs have said they feel blamed by the Government’s changing advice.
Dr Julia Grace Patterson, chief executive of EveryDoctor, told a briefing on Wednesday: “It’s a bit of a shock for GPs to have been told vehemently by the Health Secretary last year that all appointments should be via telephone.
“Now we are told the absolute opposite and, in fact, blamed for the amount of telephone consultations that have been happening.”
In September, leading GPs said that the current balance of face-to-face appointments was “about right” – but the public feels differently, with a recent YouGov poll revealing two-thirds of people would prefer a face-to-face appointment.
Source: Daily Express