League tables for GP surgeries as part of £250m package to increase face-to-face appointments
By SEAMLESS DAILY
14 October 2021
Practices which fail to provide an "appropriate" level of appointments in person will not be eligible for new NHS funding worth £250m.
As part of a new package of measures to improve access, patients will also be able to rate their practice's performance via text message.
NHS England made clear that "every GP practice must seek patients' input and respect preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary".
7 Performance league tables What they 're announcing : GP appointment data will be published at practice level by spring next year to enhance transparency and accountability.
only surgeries that provide "appropriate levels of face-to-face care" will be defined, but those who do not meet the standard will be offered support to improve.
"Walk-in consultations" could be one of the ways in which practices choose to address the problem.
GP telephone systems will be upgraded to reduce long waits over the phone, social distancing in practices could be changed or reduced, and patients will be able to see nurses, pharmacists and paramedics at GP practices.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said : "I am determined to ensure patients can see their GP in the way they want, no matter where they live."
this will tackle underperformance, taking pressure off staff so they can spend more time with patients and increase the number of face-to-face appointments.
The British Medical Association said the plans would not help GPs improve care in the way they had hoped and described the government as "ignorant" to the scale of the crisis.
GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey criticised the "preoccupation" with face-to-face appointments and said a hybrid approach was needed.
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said : "The workforce pressures facing general practice are long-standing.
in july last year, then health secretary matt hancock said all initial gp appointments "should be teleconsultations unless there's a compelling clinical reason not to".
Campaign group EveryDoctor, which represents 1,700 UK doctors, said earlier on Wednesday that "it's a bit of a shock" GPs have been "blamed" for the amount of telephone consultations offered to patients when they were just following government guidance.
The NHS's Long Term Plan, published in 2019, proposed that all patients be given a "digital-first" option for accessing GP care.
GPs in England will be handed £250m to improve their services but only if they increase the number of patients being seen face-to-face under a new government and NHS action plan.
The new winter access fund will pay for locum, or self-employed GPs, to work more shifts in GP surgeries.
However, the money will be conditional on increasing the number of patients who get an in-person appointment.
In future, GPs must ask patients if they want to come into the surgery to be seen or are happy to talk to a doctor or practice nurse on the telephone or by videocall instead and arrange a face-to-face consultation if that is what the patient wants.
There is evidence that the difficulty of getting to see a GP is one of the factors driving the recent rise in people seeking care at an A & E unit.
They included suspension of the Quality Outcomes Framework, under which GPs are paid for monitoring patients with conditions such as asthma and diabetes; creation of a new national helpline to answer patients' queries about Covid vaccination; and ensuring that hospitals set up systems to let patients know when their planned surgery is happening, to reduce calls to GPs about that.
The BMA warned that the shake-up would make it harder rather than easier for patients to get appointments.
"gps and their teams will now be facing the worst winter for decades, and as a result, patients' care will suffer.
Appointments will be harder to book, waiting times will get longer, more of the profession could leave and GPs will struggle to cope.
He said it was disappointing to see there was 'no end in sight to the preoccupation with face-to-face appointments' – and demanded an end to ‘ target-driven, payment-by-results ’.
Family doctors will be offered an extra £250 million to improve patient access – but will be named and shamed in new league tables if they fail to deliver.
The NHS England 'Plan for GPs and Patients' will give practices £250 million of extra cash to take on more staff, ensuring patients can have an appointment on the day they request one.
GP surgeries will also be given new infection advice on social distancing so their waiting rooms can accommodate more patients.
'GPs go into medicine to care for patients, yet they spend a significant amount of their time on box-ticking and filling forms,' he said.
nhs england said its new plan to support gps will also aim to tackle abuse of doctors and staff.
A new YouGov poll suggests two-thirds of people would prefer face to face appointment with 25 per cent saying they wouldn't mind what format is used.
Conducting appointments in-person will allow doctors to spot symptoms they could not have detected remotely and improve the patient-doctor relationship.
What it means : The money will pay for locums and other health professionals, such as physiotherapists and podiatrists, with a focus on increasing capacity.
NHS England said cash will also be used to upgrade telephone systems to improve access and to avoid long waits on the phone for patients trying to speak to staff.
Getting highly-skilled nurses and pharmacists to perform some checks will free up GPs for more complex issues.
According to NHS data, 58 per cent of GP appointments are carried out face to face with most also on the same day.
During the pandemic and as a result of encouragement by NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care, many GPs adopted digital and telephone appointments.
The Independent has previously highlighted the pressures on GPs and the increasing demand as fewer GPs serve an increasing population with pent up demand for healthcare.
She said "inflammatory" rhetoric about access to GP services was leading to "abuse" of staff and pointed to the 2021 GP patient survey which showed 83 per cent of patients in England said their experience was "good".
Other changes include reducing admin burdens on GPs to fill out fit notes and DVLA checks.
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