Consultation data reflects new ways of working and timely GP care being delivered, says RCGP

Responding to recent GP consultation data from NHS Digital, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

"GPs and our teams are currently working incredibly hard, with a central role in the Covid vaccination programme – delivering around 75% of vaccine doses in England – as well as continuing the expanded flu vaccination programme and delivering the care our patients rely on. Given the workload and workforce pressures general practice is facing, it’s really good to see that when patients need care, they are being seen in such a timely manner.

"We’re unclear as to the extent work associated with the Covid vaccination programme is reflected in this data, as if GPs and practice team members are working in different settings, outside of their normal surgery, it may not be recorded in this dataset.

"When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK, GPs and our teams swiftly transformed the way we delivered many of our services in order to keep staff and patients safe, and maintain infection control in surgeries, so it isn’t surprising to see this reflected in consultation data from the start of this year, compared to pre-pandemic. When patients have needed face to face appointments, these have been facilitated in as safe a way as possible, and as this data shows, more than half of consultations in general practice are currently being conducted face to face.

"One thing we are finding is much lower prevalence of common winter illnesses, such as colds and flu, which often makes up a high number of GP consultations at this time of year. This is likely to be due to a combination of social distancing measures and lockdown restrictions, and a very high take up of the flu vaccine, particularly amongst over-65s, which is our best protection against influenza.

"General practice services are available, as they have been throughout the pandemic. If patients are concerned about their health, or have symptoms that could be signs of serious disease, such as cancer, we would encourage them to seek medical advice via 111 or their GP practice - and in an emergency they should call 999."

Further information

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RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7633/7494/7574

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.