General practice has been open throughout pandemic and will continue to be so, says RCGP Chair

Publication date: 24 June 2020

Responding to a comment at yesterday’s COVID-19 press conference that patients were attending A&E because they couldn’t see a GP, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“GPs and our teams have been working hard throughout the COVID-19 pandemic delivering care to both patients with the virus and the many unrelated conditions general practice sees on a daily basis. As we move into the next stage of the pandemic, GPs and our teams will be at the forefront of dealing with a predicted increase in demand as we care for patients who may have put off seeking care during the pandemic and those suffering from indirect side-effects of the crisis, such as associated mental health conditions.

“General practice has adapted remarkably to new ways of working to ensure patients can continue to access safe care in the current crisis. Remote consultations not only keep patients safe and help to stop the spread of the virus, they reduce the risk for GPs and the practice team so that they can carry on working, thereby alleviating pressures on the rest of the NHS, including emergency departments.

“If a remote consultation is not suitable, face-to-face appointments are still being offered with appropriate safeguards, and GPs are also continuing to carry out vitally important preventive work such as the childhood vaccination programme.

“During the pandemic, as in normal times, general practice continues to deliver the vast majority of NHS patient contacts. In doing so, our profession alleviates pressures on colleagues across the NHS, including those who work in A&E. To hear the opposite insinuated on a national platform is frustrating and demoralising for GPs, who are working under huge pressure - but also sends a wrong and misleading message to our patients, who might already be confused about how to access care during the pandemic.”

Further Information

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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