GPs Struggling to get face to face Appointments as Lockdown Restrictions are lifted
The rate of face-to-face GP consultations in England has changed little since the winter lockdown, data shows.
August 2021 only 58% of GP Appointments were conducted face to face, since the lockdown was lifted. GPs have explained due to a shortage of staff the response times were slow. As lockdown restrictions have ended all over the country and life almost seems back to normal GP Practises continue to face the struggles. One of them is the difficulty of providing a face-to-face appointment as before the Covid 19 pandemic. In the research the royal college of medicine has explained that having appointments online has made life easier for some it has excluded other groups such as older and disabled people as well as low-income families.
Melody interviewed a woman who has taken GP appointments online and we asked her about her experience. Melody asks her “What was your experience of taking GP online since the lockdown?” The woman replies, “It’s been quite difficult to get a GP appointment at my local surgery and, they’ve only been phone appointments, so it’s become much more difficult and sometimes you want to see your GP face to face.” Melody asks her “Have you went to A&E since the lockdown because of lack of face-to-face appointments?”. The woman replies “I did end up in A&E earlier this year and it was after phoning one on one, perhaps if I had a GP appointment I might not have went to A&E that’s possible.
The problems have started to have a knock-on effect on A&Es, with emergency care doctors saying a lack of GP access is a key factor in the high numbers turning up at hospital. Ministers and NHS England have both demanded more patients should have in-person consultations – and say GPs are being given the money to provide them. Before the pandemic, it was reported that more than 80% of patients were seen face-to-face in the surgery or via home visits. But during the first lockdown last spring, that dropped below 50% and has struggled to recover significantly since. For all of this year it has been hovering between 50% and 60%.
In areas such as South East London, East Staffordshire and South Sefton in Merseyside reporting under half of their consultations are done in-person. But in North Tyneside 74% are. The Covid vaccination programme, rising demand partly driven by people needing support as they have to wait longer for hospital treatment and the increased frailty in older populations because of the pandemic have all increased workload. RCEM president Dr Katherine Henderson has said “A&Es are always open, so if patients do struggle to get a face-to-face appointment with their under-pressure GP, they may feel the need to attend their emergency department. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said the government was “hugely grateful to GP practices for their hard work and dedication”. But he added: “We’re clear GP practices must provide face-to-face appointments to those who want them.”
VT Package (1/10/2021) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP1Q87iR82E
Radio News Bulletin (12/11/2021) – https://soundcloud.com/user-731105059/radio-news-bulletin
Radio News Bulletin (12/11/2021) – https://soundcloud.com/user-731105059/radio-news-bulletin-at-300