Nearly half of general practice consultations being delivered face to face: RCGP responds to Mail on Sunday criticism

Responding to a Mail on Sunday article on GP access Dr Gary Howsam, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“General practice services have been available throughout the pandemic, but they are being delivered differently in order to help stop the spread of Covid-19, keep patients and staff safe and allowing GPs and our teams to keep working, delivering essential care. This is all in line with official guidance from NHS England.

“Remote consultations will suit some patients better than others, but in general patients have understood the changes, and the rationale for them. Where necessary, face to face appointments have continued to be facilitated, and College data shows that 45% of consultations in general practice are now being conducted face to face.

“The College has worked hard to get the message out that general practice is open, and launched a public awareness campaign to coincide with the start of the second national lockdown, urging patients to continue accessing GP care if they are concerned about their health or have signs that could indicate serious illnesses, such as cancer. We have also worked with the RNID to develop a toolkit to support GPs to deliver care for patients with hearing loss – a group we know find remote care more challenging. 

“Data from the College’s Research and Surveillance Centre shows that GPs and our teams are making more patient consultations than this time last year - with more than a million more appointments being conducted in the last four weeks comparatively. General practice is set to get busier as we anticipate usual winter pressures. The profession is also delivering the largest ever flu vaccination programme and is set to play a leading role in the Covid-19 vaccination programme. It’s essential that we have the necessary resources and workforce to get through this incredibly challenging period and continue delivering patient care to around a million patients a day.”

Further information

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.