A furious row erupted last night as GPs claimed they had won ‘significant concessions’ over Sajid Javid’s plans to ensure more face-to-face appointments.
The British Medical Association (BMA) had voted down the Health Secretary’s package – announced after a Daily Mail campaign – which included identifying surgeries that saw too few people in person.
After a meeting on Wednesday night between the BMA and NHS England, there were claims that the plan to publish ‘league tables’ – showing what proportion of appointments were in person – had been abandoned, along with specific targets.
But the Department of Health moved quickly to insist it had made no concession to doctors’ unions. It stated that it would continue to push for surgery-level data on face–to-face appointments.
GPs claimed last night they had won ‘significant concessions’ over Sajid Javid’s (pictured) plans to ensure more face-to-face appointments
A spokesman said: ‘There are no plans to change the set of measures outlined earlier this month to support our phenomenal GPs. Transparency of data is vitally important as we level up healthcare across the country.’
Both sides appeared to agree that publishing data should not be labelled as ‘naming and shaming’.
The BMA is still speaking with its members about possible industrial actions, which could see doctors at 6,600 practices decrease their workload.
But, in a new initiative, ministers have agreed to work alongside the BMA to launch a ‘zero tolerance’ campaign on the abuse of NHS staff. It was necessary because 11 million patients missed face-to–face appointments last month.
According to the latest NHS England figures, only 61% of the 28 million GP appointments that were made in September were done in-person.
This is slightly higher than the previous months, but still below the pre-pandemic levels at 80 percent of consultations.
Statistics also revealed that nearly half of all appointments are now with ‘other practice staff’ – such as a nurse or physio – rather than a doctor.
An earlier month, the Government and NHS chiefs presented a nine-point package to address the problem.
Officials from the Department of Health denied the claim and stated that they would press ahead to publish data at surgery-level showing how many appointments were done in person (stock photo).
The £250million plan would mean doctors cannot deny a face-to-face appointment unless there is a good clinical reason, and surgeries which don’t deliver them could be named and shamed.
But the BMA has urged GPs to refuse to comply with the plan, which they called a ‘bully’s charter’.
Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘Good, safe and personalised care can be delivered remotely, and it is not confined to general practice.’
But minister for primary care Maria Caulfield said: ‘I know how important it is for patients to be able to see their GP in the way they choose and so it’s promising to see the number of face-to-face appointments is increasing.
‘We have set out a plan to provide targeted support for GP teams to help them continue to improve access –backed by a further £250million.’