The NHS has released guidance stating that from Monday 17th May 2021 general practice should make a ‘clear offer of appointments in person’ alongside video, online and telephone consultations.
We can assure patients that we have always made ‘a clear offer of appointments in person‘ where this has been clinically indicated. ‘Clinicially indicated’ means that the patient has been assessed and that there has been a clinical need to consult with the patient face-to-face (for example, where an examination, test or sample is required). Our method of assessment during this last year has been through telephone and econsultations where this has been appropriate, recognising that there are a small cohort of patients where such methods are unsuitable.
As restrictions lift, we will continue to ask patients to consider using our telephone and Econsultation service in the first instance because this helps us ensure that face to face appointments are available to those who need them the most and also because we are facing unprecedented demand resulting from the impact of the pandemic in the last year as well as the normal clinical demand that would be expected in this current year.
We also have to ensure our waiting room numbers meet social distancing guidelines. Our waiting room currently only holds 18 patients. We also have to be mindful of this when offering face to face appointments.
This does not mean that patients cannot request a face to face appointment. However, face to face appointments are not a limitless supply and whilst we will do our best to meet all our patients needs we will continue to advise patients to use the most appropriate service.
It is also important to know that general practice appointments do not just refer to appointments with a GP. They refer to appointments with all our clinical staff for a wide range of reasons: a new medical problem, blood tests, cervical screening, chronic disease reviews such as Asthma and COPD, immunisations, and NHS health check for example. The nationally reported reduction in face to face appointments to 50% during the last year relates to *all* appointment types and reasons and so is highly misleading in its inference.
To all our patients who have sent in expressions of appreciation for the hard efforts of our staff, we are very grateful.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.