RCGP Scotland NHS Recovery Plan
Publication date: 25 August 2021
Commenting on the publication of the Scottish Government's NHS Recovery Plan, Dr Chris Williams, Joint Chair of RCGP Scotland said:
"The publication of today's recovery plan by the Scottish Government is welcome recognition of the challenges that the entire NHS is currently facing as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“General practice has never stopped delivering care to patients throughout this pandemic, which we are very much still in the midst of with COVID-19 cases spiking throughout Scotland.
"At the beginning of the pandemic GPs and their teams rapidly transformed the way that they deliver care to their patients. This was achieved through the majority of consultations being delivered remotely. We have still continued to see patients face to face when it has been clinically necessary to do so.
"We view a mix of face to face, digital and telephone appointments that meet the needs of patients as the future of general practice. However, the priority of GPs and their teams at the moment is ensuring that they can protect their most vulnerable patients from the worst effects of COVID-19 while continuing to meet the individual needs of all of their patients. In many cases, the best way to do this is to limit the footfall within practices and offer remote consultations for those patients where this is an appropriate course of action.
"We note the desire to increase face to face consultations, and await updated guidance on this. However, we anticipate that the solutions will look very different across the many different physical spaces that GPs and their teams work in and will take time to implement.
"General practice is already working beyond capacity and the changes outlined in the recovery plan will take time and resource to embed. We would ask that patients bear with us while practice teams assess what they need to do to be able to safely offer more face to face appointments at this time.
"Many of the areas highlighted within the NHS Recovery Plan - such as workforce shortages - already presented significant challenges prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are extremely concerned about the further impact that the pandemic is likely to have on the ability of GPs to remain working on the frontline. We require urgent action to ensure that our workforce feel able to remain working in general practice for as long as possible, while also ensuring that general practice is an attractive profession for doctors to join. We also need action to bolster the quality of the data held on the GP workforce to ensure workforce planning can be as accurate as possible. We continue to work with the Scottish Government and others to overcome barriers to achieving fit-for-purpose data collection.
"We are pleased that the NHS Recovery Plan recognises the pivotal role that general practice will play in the NHS-wide recovery from COVID-19 and also the role that our profession has played delivering care throughout the pandemic. Our overriding priority is and has always been to provide the highest standard of care to our patients and we are extremely concerned about the impact that the pandemic has had on many aspects of patients' health.
"We are keen to work with the Scottish Government and others to ensure that general practice has what it needs to fulfil its full potential at the centre of the NHS recovery."
(For Media only)
For media inquiries, please contact:
Lizzie Edwards, Policy and Public Affairs Manager for RCGP Scotland
Notes to editor
RCGP Scotland represents a network of around 5,000 doctors in Scotland aiming to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standard of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on resources, education, training, research, and clinical standards.