England’s leading medical profession has supported measures to introduce more personal GP appointments and told a conference of GPs that the pendulum has swung too far in one direction during the pandemic.
Family doctors have responded with anger at the government’s plan to name and shame underperforming family doctor offices as part of a new £ 250 million plan.
The NHS is pouring millions into a new package of measures aimed at improving access to primary care physicians, but practices that do not allow for an “adequate” amount of face-to-face appointments are not eligible for the new funding.
Health Minister Sajid Javid, who has faced a backlash over the new plans, was due to speak at the Royal College of GPs annual conference today but withdrew at the last minute.
The chairman of the RCGP described the attack by some politicians and sections of the media as “abuse” and described it as “demoralizing and unjustifiable”.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty praised the GPs for their work during the pandemic, but said the profession needs to discuss with the public what could be provided.
He told delegates attending the conference in Liverpool that the subject of face-to-face meetings “had gotten more warmth than it needed”. with patients, but he added that things had now gone too far in the other direction.
“The pendulum must now return to a point that is not quite where it was in the middle of Covid, nor where it was in August 2019,” he said.
“I think it’s not the right point yet, and in a sense the right point is where you optimize what works best for patients and what works best for medical care.
“We as a professional group need to have a debate with the public about who we serve and what the right place is to do it, but also acknowledge that we are trying to use the resources we can in the best possible way and in the best way possible Realizing that a telemedicine solution is the better solution for many patients, including for example …
Prof. Whitty added that the question of personal appointments should not be “driven by public discourse”, although he accepted that it was “fairly reasonable” for politicians to speak up.
Professor Martin Marshall, head of the RCGP, told delegates that family doctors had worked tirelessly to support patients during the pandemic and are now helping all people with conditions like long Covid as well as patients on long NHS waiting lists.
He said family doctors found themselves at the center of a “public storm over personal appointments”.
He added, “The vicious criticism of the profession from certain sections of the media and from some politicians as a result of the shift to remote work – which was introduced to protect our patients and our team and to keep the service going – was that Worst thing I can remember working as a family doctor for over 30 years.
“This widespread defamation of hard-working GPs and our teams is unfair, demoralizing, and unjustifiable.
“Nobody who works in general medicine deserves this abuse.”
Prof. Marshall criticized the new plan announced by Mr. Javid: “The so-called General Practice Support Package in England announced this morning is definitely not the answer to the challenges we face in providing quality care to our patients.
“To call today’s announcement a missed opportunity would be the understatement of the century.”
Previously, Dr. Michael Mulholland, vice chairman of professional development for the RCGP, told the college’s annual conference that there had been a “change” in the roster for the meeting and that Mr. Javid would not contact general practitioners.
Amid the laughter of the audience, he said: “Unfortunately we have a change in the program. The British Minister of Health cannot come to us today either in person or via video link.
“That’s because, and I have to get it right, he had to erase his diary to make sure that he can fight for the NHS on the expense review or be in any other place you saw or heard him this morning “.
In a previous speech on Sky News, Mr Javid insisted the government had no plans to name and shame family doctors, but added that providing “more data, more transparency” would help raise standards across the country to increase.
“It is important that patients have this information because I want to see health care improvements across the country.
“We need to understand the differences in health care across the country.
“This overall package is about support today. This is about helping GPs so they can do what they do best, which is to see their patients.”