Letter to the Spectator following claims about general practice

Dr Gary Howsam, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, responded to an article in the Spectator earlier this month that made two unsound claims about general practice.

Dr Howsam’s letter has been published unabridged in the Spectator as below.

Sir Kate Andrews' critique of the NHS (2 December) makes two claims about general practice that I would query. Firstly, she says GPs are refusing to see patients in person. Yet, of the 34m patient consultations made in general practice in October - the second-highest on record - almost two thirds were conducted in person. Face to face consulting will always be an essential part of general practice, but good, safe and appropriate care can be, and is being, delivered remotely.

She also claims that patients attend A&E because they can't see a GP in person. We know of no hard evidence to support this. In fact, the vast majority of patient contacts in the NHS are carried out by GPs and our teams, alleviating pressures elsewhere in the health service, including emergency departments.

Dr Gary Howsam Vice Chair, Royal College of GPs

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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.