Despite everything, we have every reason to be proud of what we’re achieving for our patients

24 September 2021

There’s lots of bad news about general practice around at the moment, so this week I want to offer you some information which I hope will make you feel a bit better.

According to NHS Digital data, in August 55% of patients were seen on the same day or within one day of making an appointment - a 10% improvement on the same period in 2019. Only 6.6% of patients had to wait more than three weeks for a consultation - half the figure seen in 2019.

According to NHS England’s 2021 patient survey 80% of patients rated their overall experience of their GP practice as good. 82% of patients were satisfied with the appointment type they were offered and 70% said they were happy with the appointment time they were given. 90% of patients said their needs were met during their last appointment and 96% of patients said they had trust and confidence in the health professional they saw.

So, anecdotes bad, data remarkably good. Despite everything, we have every reason to be proud of what we’re achieving for our patients.

Latest updates from your College

RCGP Council

As you receive this, we’ve just wrapped up the College’s governing Council meeting, where we’ve debated a host of policy topics including how to reduce unnecessary workload in general practice, the roles of non-GP doctors in primary care, and how to tackle drug-related harms. We’ll have a full update next week, or you can get a sense of the debate on Twitter by searching #RCGPCouncil.

Defending general practice and meeting with Secretary of State

The current anti-GP narrative in some sections of the media ramped up this week with the launch of the Daily Mail’s campaign to give patients a ‘right’ to a face-to-face appointment with their GP, and its backing by English Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

We continue to fight your corner, and respond wherever we can to this unfair, divisive, and demoralising narrative, which ignores the amazing work that is going on in general practice every day and will only serve to turn our patients against us. You can see my full response to the Daily Mail, as well as other rebuttals on the news section of our website.

I was quizzed on the issue of face-to-face consulting, among other topics, in front of MPs at the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee on Tuesday, giving evidence to the NHS backlog inquiry. I tried to make it clear that face-to-face consulting will always be an essential element of general practice, particularly for patients with more complex problems - but I challenged the idea that every patient needs to see their GP face-to-face by default, and there's no point having a ‘right’ to this if it's undeliverable. And with the current workload and workforc e pressures we’re facing, it genuinely is undeliverable at this time.

The appearance has had a lot of media coverage - you can see the key excerpt.

It’s a point I also made to Sajid Javid yesterday in my first individual face-to-face meeting with him since he took on the role of Health and Social Care Secretary. While firm on the issue of improving access to GP services, he listened to our concerns and seemed receptive, particularly on the need to reduce unnecessary workload, such as arbitrary bureaucracy, in general practice.

Manchester attack

We were horrified to hear of the repugnant attack on a GP surgery in Openshaw, Manchester last Friday.

Our thoughts are with the four members of staff injured, and everyone else who has been impacted by this dreadful attack. GPs and our teams are doing their best to care for patients, at a time when the profession is significantly over-worked and drastically understaffed, and for many this is already at the cost of their wellbeing.

Any form of abuse directed at GPs and our teams will never be acceptable and must not be tolerated.

Member committee elections

Congratulations to the new Chairs of our three College Communities. They are Julia Darko and Harry Williams, new Co-Chairs for AiT; new First5 Chair Emma Wong and Vice Chair Udenyi Sunday Agbese, and Mona Aquilina who continues her leadership of the Late Career and Retired Members Community. We look forward to working with them.

Emma Wong             Udenyi Agbese
Emma Wong            Udenyi Sunday Agbese

Julia Darko and Harry Williams        Mona Aquilina
Julia Darko               Mona Aquilina
Harry Williams

Our thanks to current AiT Joint Chairs Sophie Lumley and Adam Thomas, and Ian Wood, First5 Chair, who are stepping down. You can be proud of all your hard work and we wish you well for your future careers.

Thanks also to everyone who put themselves forward for these important elections - and those of you who took time to vote.

First5 Pathway

Our latest CPD member benefit is completely free to access for members only. This high quality, flexible CPD framework will help you excel as an independent learner post-qualification. It brings you a wide range of resources, created by our expert clinicians and curated by our First5 GPs, to help you become revalidation ready.

Veteran Friendly Accreditation

We’ve now reached the 1,000 mark for practices signed up to our Veteran Friendly Accreditation. We support our accredited practices to better understand how many veterans are in their patient community, which health conditions are seen most commonly in the veteran population, and the specialist services to which veterans and their families can be referred. A huge thanks to all members whose practices are working with us to improve patient outcomes for those who have served their country, and we hope to see even more practices added to their number in the coming months. You can sign up now.

Project ECHO on Post Covid-19 Syndrome (Long Covid)

Our educational programme with Project ECHO on Post Covid-19 syndrome (long Covid) starts 7 October at 19:00. The sessions are free so please register and you’ll be emailed guidance on how to join.

The series is designed so we can share best practice from each other, and the first three sessions are shaping up as follows:

  • 7 October - general introduction to Post Covid syndrome with speakers including GP Dr Rebecca Steed who leads a post COVID clinic in the Midlands.
  • 4 November - Post Covid syndrome in children with Professor Terrence Stephenson and Dr Liz Whittaker.
  • 2 December - new NICE guidelines which are currently out for consultation and will be formally published in November.

Inspire Awards 2021

The shortlist of award nominees is now live and open for your votes. Please take a look at our shortlisters and read about some of the fantastic work that has been going on. You have until 30 September to cast your vote (voting is for College members only).

The Inspire Awards will be held in Liverpool as part of the RCGP Annual Conference from 18:00, Friday 15 October.

Members can register your place now.

Post written by

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of RCGP Council

Professor Martin Marshall is Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners and a GP in Newham, East London. He is also Professor of Healthcare Improvement at UCL in the Department of Primary Care and Population Health. Previously he was Programme Director for Population Health and Primary Care at UCLPartners (2014-2019), Director of Research & Development at the Health Foundation (2007-2012), Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England and Director General in the Department of Health (2006-2007), Professor of General Practice at the University of Manchester (2000-2006) and a Harkness Fellow in Healthcare Policy. 

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine and was a non-executive director of the Care Quality Commission until 2012. He has advised governments in Singapore, Egypt, Canada and New Zealand, has over 230 publications in the field of quality improvement and health service redesign and his primary academic interest is in maximising the impact of research on practice. In 2005 he was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for Services to Health Care. 

A co-founder and driving force of the Rethinking Medicine movement, Martin has a passionate commitment to the values of the NHS, patient care and ensuring the GP voice is central in a time of great change. When he’s not working, he likes being outside, preferably on a mountain or a coastal path with his wife Sue and their puppy. 

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