Many local residents have expressed concerns with regard to being able to attend their surgery for a face-to-face appointment with their doctor or nurse practitioner. Now NHS England is now writing to all practices to make sure that they are communicating the fact that doctors CAN be seen in person if necessary. This follows NHS Digital reporting that most appointments are currently being made by phone call or video and deep concerns from the Patients Association.
All GP practices will today (14.09.2020) receive a letter warning them that many patients ‘are experiencing difficulty in accessing their GP’.
The letter instructs family doctors to remind all patients that they can come in for appointments if they need to – and warns them not to simply send their patients to A&E instead.
GPs are told to put up posters, record new answer phone messages and send text messages to patients making clear that practices are open and will welcome patients’ visits.
The NHS letter also reminded practices that they face enforcement action if they fail to offer clinically indicated in-person appointments to patients, as it is considered a breach of their medical contract.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: ‘Patients are rightly saying that as well as the convenient option of a phone or online GP appointment, practices should continue to offer face-to-face appointments for all those who need them
However, the Royal College of GPs were not doing their job properly ‘was an insult’. They said, ‘General practice is open and has been throughout the pandemic.’