GPs have insisted they are “pulling their weight” during the Covid pandemic after being warned to stop refusing to see patients face-to-face.
A coalition of nearly 1,000 family doctors hit out at the “widespread public impression that GPs are choosing to avoid seeing patients” in a letter to The Telegraph.
“Many patients seem to be under the impression that GPs are not pulling their weight during the pandemic,” the doctors wrote.
“In fact, we have been following Government guidance requiring us to keep patients safe during the pandemic by consulting remotely wherever possible, but we have and will always see a patient in person if that is what is needed to make a diagnosis or administer treatment.”
It comes after the NHS ordered GPs to give patients face-to-face appointments and warned they would come under investigation if people were denied them.
A letter was sent to every family doctor in the country following growing concern that too many people were being “shut out” from surgeries and only allowed consultations via telephone or video.
Health chiefs warned GPs that failure to offer appointments in person was a “breach of contract” and risked heaping pressure on Accident and Emergency departments.
The NHS medical director, Dr Nikki Kanani, later apologised for “any hurt” caused by the letter after the British Medical Association said it had triggered an “attack” on general practice.
According to recent figures, face-to-face GP appointments and home visits rose by more than 50 per cent in September, with 241.7 face-to-face appointments per 10,000 patients in the week beginning September 28 compared with 156.8 in the final week of August.
“GPs cherish the strong relationships we have with our patients and know these are key to providing the best quality healthcare,” the doctors wrote.
“Unfortunately, the challenges of the pandemic and a growing negativity towards GPs are straining these critical relationships. A better understanding of the real situation faced by GPs will be vital as we all navigate the immense challenges of the winter ahead.”