Sajid Javid told he’s ‘out of touch’ and ‘stirs hate' towards GPs
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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.
READ MORE: Sajid told he’s ‘out of touch’ as he ‘stirs hate’ against GP
Do I now have the right to see my GP face-to-face?
Under the new proposals, patients will be given the right to see a doctor in person should they believe it is required.
Health officials have made it clear that every GP practice must ask patients what form they would like their appointment to take.
GPs can only refuse if they have good clinical reasons for doing so under the “Plan for GPs and Patients”, which will be announced on Thursday.
GP practices that fail to improve access for patients will face direct intervention from teams of NHS trouble-shooters.
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England, said: “Improving access to high-quality general practice is essential for our patients and for the rest of the NHS too.
“It is a personal priority and today NHS England is taking both urgent and longer-term action to back GPs and their teams with additional investment and support.”
Mr Javid said: “I am determined to ensure patients can see their GP in the way they want, no matter where they live.
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“I also want to thank GPs and their teams for their enormous efforts in the most challenging times in living memory.
“Our new plan provides general practice teams with investment and targeted support.
“This will tackle underperformance, taking pressure off staff so they can spend more time with patients and increase the number of face-to-face appointments.
“Alongside this we are setting out more measures to tackle abuse and harassment so staff at GP surgeries who work so tirelessly to care for patients can do so without having to fear for their safety.”
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.
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