England’s top doctor has backed moves to introduce face-to-face GP appointments, telling a conference of GPs the pendulum went way too far during the pandemic.
GPs have reacted with fury to the government’s plan and sees it as low-performing GP surgery as part of a new £250 million scheme.
The NHS is plowing millions in a new package of measures aimed at improving access to GPs, but practices that fail to provide an “appropriate” level of face-to-face appointments will not be eligible for new funding .
Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who has faced backlash over the new plans, was due to address the annual conference of the Royal College of GPs today but dropped out at the last minute.
The RCGP chief described the attack by some politicians and sections of the media as “abuse” and said it was “disappointing and unforgivable”.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty praised GPs for their work during the pandemic but said the profession was faced with debating with the public what could be provided.
He told delegates attending the conference in Liverpool that there was “excessive heat” concerning the face-to-face appointments. Before the pandemic he said many doctors, including himself, were wrong for being reluctant about online and digital consultations. with patients, but he said things have now gone too far.
“The pendulum will now need to come back to a point that was not exactly where it was in the middle of covid, nor is it where it was in August 2019”, he said.
“I don’t think it’s settled on the right point yet and the right point, in a sense, where you customize what works best for patients and what works best for medical provision there.
“As a profession we have to debate with the public what is the right place for who we serve and work, but also by acknowledging that what we are trying to do is what we have. The best way we can is to use existing resources and recognize that, for many patients, a telemedicine solution is a better solution, for example… mental health, some people are actually more distant. Love the relationship and there are many others.”
Prof Whitty said the issue of face-to-face appointments should not be allowed to be “driven by public discourse”, although he acknowledged that it was “fair enough” for politicians to comment on it.
Professor Martin Marshall, head of the RCGP, told delegates that GPs had worked tirelessly to support patients through the pandemic, and they are now helping patients with chronic Covid as well as long NHS waiting lists .
He said GPs have found themselves at the center of a “public storm over face-to-face appointments”.
He continued: “The malicious criticism of the profession by certain sections of the media and by some politicians as a result of the shift towards remote working – introduced to keep our patients and our team safe and the service running – has been the worst that I have ever seen.” I can remember over 30 years as a GP.
“This widespread humiliation of the hard-working GPs and our teams is unfair, it is demoralizing and it is unforgivable.
“Anybody acting in normal behavior deserves this abuse.”
Prof Marshall criticized the new plan announced by Mr Javid, saying: “The so-called support package for general practice announced this morning in England is certainly not an answer to the challenges we face in providing high quality care for our patients. We do.
“To call today’s announcement a missed opportunity would be the silence of the century.”
Earlier, Dr Michael Mulholland, vice president of professional development at the RCGP, told the college’s annual conference that the line-up for the meeting had “changed” and that Mr Javid would not be addressing the GP.
To laughs from the audience, he said: “Unfortunately we have a change in schedule. England’s Secretary of State for Health is unable to connect with us today, either in person or by video link.
“That’s because, and I need to get this right, he has to clean his diary to make sure he can fight for the NHS in the spending review, or maybe somewhere else that you told him this morning. seen or heard.”
Speaking earlier on Sky News, Mr Javid insisted the government had no plans to name and embarrass GPs, but providing “more data, more transparency” would help raise standards across the country .
“It’s important that patients have this information because I want to look at the level of healthcare across the country.
“We need to understand what are the differences in health care provision across the country.
“This whole package today is about support. It’s all about helping GPs do what they do best, which is seeing their patients.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /