Health Secretary Sajid Javid has defended the government’s decision to publish league tables for family doctors, but has denied that it amounted to “naming and shaming” GPs.
GP surgeries that fail to provide proper “access” will be listed in the league table under a £250m scheme – giving patients a new right to demand face-to-face appointments.
Asked by Sky News whether this would mean “naming and embarrassment” of GPs who fail to meet goals, Javid: “We don’t have a plan for that … The data is providing more transparency.”
The health secretary added: “It is important that patients have this information because I want to see healthcare level across the country.”
The British Medical Association (BMA) said the government was “busy” with face-to-face appointments, while TV doctor and GP Rosemary Leonard accused Javid of “instigating anti-GP rhetoric”.
The government has pledged £250m for a new package of measures aimed at improving access to GPs. The blueprint states that GP practices should “respect preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary”.
GP appointment data will be published by spring at the practice level so people can see how well their surgeries perform compared to others.
Treats that do not provide an “appropriate level” of face-to-face care will not be able to use the additional funding – although it is not clear that the level of appointments needs to be face-to-face.
“This whole package today is about support,” Javid told Sky News. “It’s all about helping GPs do what they do best, which is seeing their patients.”
The government will reform who can provide medical evidence and certificates such as fit notes and DVLA checks – freeing up more time for appointments. Infection control will be assessed so that social distancing can be relaxed in surgery.
Doctors reacted with disappointment to the plan, warning that it would force many GPs to “hang up their stethoscopes”.
Dr Richard Voutray, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) GP committee, said: “It is truly appalling that we have a government ignorant of the needs of such a core part of the NHS.”
He continued: “It is also disappointing to see that there is no end to the preoccupation with face-to-face appointments – we need more intelligent conversations about the different types of appointments and care that patients need to be able to meet their needs. are available.”
The campaign group EveryDoctor, which represents 1,700 UK doctors, said GPs have been “blamed” for their lack of access when they were instructed by the government to give initial consultations over the phone or online.
EveryDoctor Chief Executive Dr Julia Grace Patterson said: “Last year GPs were told by the health secretary that all appointments should be via telephone.
“And now we are told the exact opposite and are, in fact, blamed for the amount of telephone consultations.”
Official figures show that 58 per cent of GP appointments in England in August were face-to-face. Before the pandemic, in August 2019, four out of five appointments were made in person.
In September, the leading GP said the current balance of face-to-face appointments was “about right”. But a new YouGov survey shows that two-thirds of people would prefer a face-to-face appointment.
Meanwhile, Javid said that he is “sorry” for the loss and suffering during the COVID pandemic.
His cabinet colleague Steve Barkley has come under fire this week for refusing to apologize in the wake of reports highly critical of the government’s delayed response to the outbreak.
“Obviously I am new to the role, but on behalf of the government, during a pandemic, anyone, especially anyone, who has spoken to a loved one, a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a friend I’m sorry for the loss. . Of course I am sorry for that,” Javid told BBC Breakfast.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /