Misconception that GPs aren’t seeing patients face-to-face, shows new data

Responding to today’s NHS Digital data on appointments in general practice.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Today's figures show that it’s a misconception that GPs and other members of our team aren’t seeing patients face-to-face. Huge numbers of GP appointments are being made every day, almost half on the same day they are booked, with a higher proportion being made in person in August than July and all in line with infection control measures to keep patients safe. This is against a backdrop of intense workload and workforce pressures in general practice.

"The narrative that remote consultations are substandard compared with seeing a GP face to face is concerning. GPs, nurses, pharmacists and others working in general practice strive to deliver the same high-quality care whether a consultation is remote or in person. Some patients prefer remote consultations as they can be more convenient and fit around other commitments - and some people are more likely to access care when they need it remotely as opposed to going to a surgery or feel more comfortable discussing certain aspects of their health. Effective digital triage can also help ensure patients receive the care most appropriate for their needs.

"Remote consulting will not always be appropriate. This is why in person appointments are being made - making up almost six in ten consultations in August - and have been throughout the pandemic when they've been necessary. Face to face consulting will always be an essential part of general practice, and as we move out of the pandemic, we want to see a blended approach with decisions about how care is delivered being a joint one between GP practices and their patients.

"Ultimately we need more GPs and other members of the practice team to deliver the care our patients need. The Government needs to act now to address this by working to build the GP workforce by at least the 6,000 full-time equivalent family doctors that have been promised, as well as other members of the practice team, and address the 'undoable' workload in general practice that is leading to trained family doctors leaving the profession earlier than planned.”

Further information

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RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7633/7494/7574
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Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 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.