College in Northern Ireland sets the record straight on remote consultations

The Royal College of General Practitioners in Northern Ireland has issued the following statement, following misleading reports in some of today’s media about GP consultation methods post-pandemic.

General practice did not enter the Covid-19 pandemic in a good place, following decades of underinvestment in our services and poor workforce planning. This, coupled with rising demand, left GP services in a challenging place.

GPs quickly adapted to new ways of working, virtually overnight, at the start of the pandemic, adhering to Government mandated infection control guidance. This meant patients were able to access healthcare safely throughout the worst of Covid-19.

We have always been very clear that post-pandemic, patients should be able to access GP care and services in a variety of ways, based on their health needs and preferences – and current data shows this is happening. Many patients prefer to see their GP in person, but good, safe, and appropriate clinical care is being delivered remotely. There are also many patients who find this way of accessing care convenient, including those with work or caring responsibilities.

We also acknowledge that many patients are having difficulties getting through and it is vital that there is significant investment in our telephony systems, to allow surgeries to manage the huge volume of calls.

We are clear that the method of consultation should be a shared decision between patient and GP.

Further information

Please contact Cliona McCarney
Policy and Public Affairs Manager at RCGPNI
07341 737033 for media requests.

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.