COVID-19, particularly the rise of remote consulting, has posed challenges for delivering effective relationship-based care. Relationships between GPs and patients must be prioritised as we choose what the service should look like post-pandemic.
Reinvigorating relationship-based care is a 2020-23 policy and campaigning priority for the RCGP.
General practice COVID-19 recovery: the future role of remote consultations & patient ‘triage’
The future role of remote consultations and patient 'triage' is the first in a series of RCGP reports, setting out how general practice should function in a post-COVID environment. Remote consultations have played a significant role in GPs providing care throughout the pandemic, ensuring effective infection control in practices.
As the vaccination programme is rolled out and social distance restrictions ease, we expect to see a rebalancing of remote and face-to-face consultations. This poses a challenge for the Government and health systems to build upon the benefits that have emerged from new ways of working during the pandemic whilst ensuring that relational care and health inequalities do not suffer in the longer term.
Our new report, therefore, calls on the government to:
- invest £1 billion in improving the digital infrastructure for general practice. This will help us provide better remote care and make it more accessible for everyone
- review and improve digital patient triage platforms and processes, and produce guidance for patients and staff to support effective implementation
- ensure GPs and wider teams have access to the tools, training, guidance and support in routinely using digital tools in their practice
- implement targeted strategies to support equal patient access to care
- commission research into models of triage and remote consultations to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of existing methods
General Practice in Crisis: An Action Plan for Recovery (England)
GPs and practice teams have played a pivotal role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They are working hard to care for their patients and taking a central role in delivering the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
Before the pandemic, millions of patients visited their family doctors every week, and those doctors were already facing a lot of pressure due to their heavy workload and staff shortages.
As we move beyond the ‘emergency’ pandemic period, general practice – the foundation stone of our healthcare system – is now at breaking point. The pressures on general practice are unsustainable and must be urgently addressed.
Our new report, General Practice in Crisis: An Action Plan for Recovery, outlines five important actions the Government should take to enhance the quality of patient care in general practice.
- Ramp-up efforts to deliver 6,000 more FTE GPs by 2024 as per 2019 Conservative manifesto.
- Undertake a system-wide programme to eradicate unnecessary general practice workload by 2024 to allow GPs more time to care and prevent GP burnout.
- Recruit and properly integrate at least 26,000 other staff members into the general practice workforce by 2024.
- Ensure infrastructure within general practice is fit for purpose by 2024 to allow GPs to deliver care in a safe way using reliable technology.
- Enable GPs to have a strong voice in integrated care systems and designing care for their communities.
You can download our Action Plan and write to your MP about the challenges in your surgery.
General practice is open
The Royal College of GPs has released a guide for GP practices, encouraging patients to keep seeking primary healthcare services when necessary. Although general practices have remained open throughout the pandemic, how patients receive care has changed due to the Coronavirus.
Our resource describes how services are offered – and how most appointments are currently carried out over the phone or via video in the first instance. We are reiterating to patients that if a face-to-face appointment is needed, you will still be seen in person by a GP.
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