CCGs should work with GP practices to ensure patients who need face to face consultations continue to be able to have them, says RCGP

Publication date: 06 August 2020

Responding to new analysis by the Health Foundation published today, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Throughout the pandemic GPs and our teams have been working differently to normal delivering care to patients with both COVID and non-COVID conditions. Whilst most care has been delivered remotely during lockdown, to help stop the spread of the virus, and keep practice staff and other patients safe, face to face appointments will have been facilitated where necessary.

"As normal service starts to resume, and we have already seen an increase in face to face appointments over the last eight weeks, safety will remain a priority in general practice. GPs will wear masks and other practice staff will either wear masks or sit behind protective screens, and we are strongly encouraging all patients to wear face coverings and continue to practise good hygiene when visiting their GP practices. 
"However, there will be some GPs and other members of the practice team who do not feel able to return to delivering face to face patient consultations because they are at particularly high risk of COVID-19. In the case that these are single-handed GPs, and delivering care remotely is not possible, it will be important that arrangements are made for any patient to be able to see a GP face to face, if necessary. 
"A totally, or even predominantly, remote general practice service wouldn’t be in anybody’s best interests long-term. Remote consultations can be convenient for patients, and GPs have reported they have found them to be an efficient way of delivering care - they have also been vital in helping to keep general practice and patients safe during the pandemic. But we know that many patients prefer seeing their GP in person, and many GPs prefer this too, particularly for patients with complex health needs who really value the relationship-based care that GPs excel at delivering. The RCGP agrees with the Health Foundation that CCGs should work with practices to ensure that any patient who needs a face to face consultation with their GP is able to have one."

Further Information

This statement was made in response to the Health Foundation article: How might COVID-19 affect the number of GPs available to see patients in England? 

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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