Exclusive The BMA’s GP Committee has met with a health minister, as well as the NHS chief, over NHS England’s claim last month that GP practices are not open to patients, Pulse has learned.
GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told Pulse he met with Jo Churchill and NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stephens over the recent controversy, which he called an ‘appalling slur’.
It comes as the CQC today published its annual report, saying GPs should make sure not to give the ‘inadvertent’ message that their practice is closed.
NHS England landed itself in hot water with GPs last month after it issued a press release to national newspapers suggesting GPs were not offering face-to-face appointments where necessary.
However, the ongoing advice from NHS England is that practices should remotely triage all patients whilst the Covid-19 pandemic continues.
Dr Vautrey told Pulse that he recently had meetings with both primary care minister Ms Churchill, and Sir Simon, to discuss the issue ‘in detail’.
He said: ‘There was recognition of the concerns and I’ve called on both NHS England and the Government to demonstrate that in their actions.’
And speaking at this year’s virtual Best Practice conference yesterday, Dr Vautrey said practices have been open for business ‘from day one’ of the coronavirus pandemic and are doing ‘exactly the right thing’.
He told delegates: ‘Throughout it all, from day one to today, general practice has been open for business. Indeed more than that, we’ve gone the extra mile for our patients and our communities.
‘So for NHS England to brief the press last month to suggest that practices were not enabling patients to have face-to-face consultations when they needed to be seen and examined was an appalling slur and is why I wrote demanding an apology.’
He added: ‘Practices are doing exactly the right thing by triaging all initial patient contacts and by doing so, they’re protecting both patients as well as the workforce from overcrowded waiting rooms and the risk of spreading this deadly infection.’
Dr Vautrey said he is ‘proud’ of how GPs and their teams have responded to the ‘massive challenge’ posed by the pandemic, despite ‘many dark days in the last few months’.
The BMA demanded NHS England issue a correction after practice staff faced abuse from patients – while NHS England’s medical director for primary care tweeted an apology for the ‘hurt’ caused.
Meanwhile, a health minister recently suggested GPs can ‘recommence’ face-to-face care safely using PPE.
And the chief medical officer this month urged patients to visit their GP in a live briefing.
Londonwide LMCs have launched a new social media video campaign, highlighting that GP practices are open and seeing patients with cancer symptoms, using the hashtag #GPsareopen.
— to www.pulsetoday.co.uk