General practice continues to be open

Responding to new NHS England guidance for general practice to deprioritise non-essential services, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“GPs and our teams are working incredibly hard delivering the Covid vaccination programme in the community, alongside the expanded flu vaccination programme and the usual care and services our patients rely on us for. The approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine means general practice will play an even greater role in the Covid vaccination programme. This will mean that some workload prioritisation is necessary, focusing on de-prioritising non-essential tasks such as routine health checks, to keep general practice – and in turn the rest of the NHS – sustainable.

“It’s important decisions about this are made at a local level, taking into account the needs of local populations, and the RCGP is working with the BMA to develop guidance in this area.

“This does not mean that GP services are not available. They are available, as they have been throughout the pandemic, and if patients are concerned about their health, or have symptoms that may be signs of serious illness, such as cancer, they should seek medical assistance.

“We need to be delivering upwards of 2m vaccinations a week – this is a challenging but necessary target. To meet it, we need an expanded vaccinating workforce. This is why unnecessary red tape facing retired GPs and other healthcare professionals wanting to return to service to deliver the vaccine, needs to be cut. We need to see urgent action, so it’s been good to hear both the Health Secretary and Prime Minister acknowledge the need for this to be addressed.

“It’s also vital that GPs and their teams on the ground, running vaccination centres, are listened to and if they have concerns, they are quickly addressed.”

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.