- Family doctors will be asked to break Covid rules to see more patients in person
- The move is part of Sajid Javid’s package to tackle the crisis in GP access
- Instructions to include elimination of social distancing of two meters in GP surgery
Family Doctors will be asked to break COVID rules so that they can see more patients in person.
The move is part of Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s package to address the crisis in GP access, highlighted by the Granthshala.
To be published in the coming days, it will focus on cutting bureaucracy, giving doctors more time to see patients face-to-face.
GP surgeries will be given new COVID guidance, including scrapping the two-metre social distancing rule, which was abolished months ago elsewhere.
Tough ‘advanced cleaning’ arrangements will also be relaxed in the shake-up.
A Whitehall source said a ‘small minority’ of GPs who oppose a return to face-to-face appointments would be ‘held to account’.
The decision is a major victory for Mail’s campaign, Let’s See GPs face to face, which detailed the devastating drop in the number of patients able to see a doctor.
The move is part of Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s package to address the crisis in GP access
The latest figures show that in England less than 60 per cent of GP consultations are conducted in person, compared to 80 per cent before the pandemic.
It emerged yesterday that the situation is likely to get worse, as official figures incorrectly classified telephone consultations as face-to-face.
Promoters point out that in-person appointments are important to pick up on symptoms and conditions that might otherwise be missed. There is also fear that access problems may cause patients to overlook potentially dangerous issues.
A Whitehall source said last night that the new package would work with the profession to help ministers reverse the decline seen over the past two years.
The source added: ‘GPs are doing a great job in tough conditions – we are full of praise for the vast majority who are doing their best for patients.
‘We are working closely with the NHS on plans to support GPs and deliver better outcomes for patients. We all want the same result and by working together we can achieve it but we will catch the small minority keeping the side in mind.
Mr Javid is said to believe the social distancing in GP surgery fails to demonstrate the success of the vaccination programme.
Many sites are still implementing the two-metre rule, significantly reducing capacity in waiting rooms. Hospitals went on the one meter rule last month.
The workload of Gram Panchayats will be reduced through more prescriptions and disease notes writing for workers by hospitals.
Pharmacies may also be asked to do more to help, including giving additional vaccinations.
The package to be published in the coming days will focus on cutting bureaucracy, giving doctors more time to see patients face-to-face
Doctors’ representatives have rebutted suggestions they’re trying to avoid seeing their patients.
Professor Martin Marshall, President of the Royal College of GPs, said it was no longer possible to see everyone who seeks counseling in person.
‘Patients will get used to it,’ he said last month. ‘I don’t think we’ll go back to counseling 80 percent of the time, usually face-to-face.’
Sources declined to comment on what action would be taken against GPs refusing to cooperate, but said ministers had several ‘levers’. Mr Javid is believed to have considered possible financial sanctions.
The Mail revealed this week that patients face a ‘postcode lottery’ when seeking GP access.
Official figures show that the average number of physicians per family has increased by 5 percent to 2,038 over the past six years. But in some areas the figure was around 3,000 – in contrast to the best-served districts, where there are just 1,600 patients per GP.
NHS England is responsible for the rules of social distancing in GP surgeries.