It was appalling that earlier this week NHSE/I briefed the media to suggest that practices were not offering face-to-face appointments to patients, implying that we are not available for the patients that need us.
As we all know, the reality is that GPs and their teams have been working incredibly hard to keep their services as accessible as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, with most offering telephone and digital triage as the first point of contact in order to help keep their workforce and communities safe. This is exactly what the Government has been encouraging us to do.
Throughout the pandemic practices have continued to enable face-to-face appointments when it was clinically necessary. Any inference that in-person consultations were not provided when needed is an affront to the thousands of committed GPs who have continued to deliver the best possible care to their patients, despite the many challenges we have faced. This is also an insult to the memory of the GPs who tragically died from COVID-19 which they contracted during face-to-face consultations.
Whilst we look forward to the time when it’s possible for more face to face consultations to take place without the need for PPE, thanks to the dedication of practice teams across the country and the use of new arrangements, patients’ concerns can now often be dealt with more efficiently, including redirecting patients to the appropriate professional service, such as to digital physiotherapy consultations, social prescribers or pharmacy. Surgeries should be commended, not criticised, for adapting so quickly and seamlessly to what is a massive shift in their usual working pattern and the Government needs to do much more to recognise and support practices doing this.
The anger and hurt within then profession is understandable, but that should not lead to abusive messages being directed towards individuals. We have raised our concerns with NHSE/I and with the Department of Health and Social Care about this unacceptable situation and highlighted how damaging to morale this has been for GPs and their staff. I have also sent the attached letter to Simon Stevens calling for an apology and action to address our concerns with this letter.
Read our full statement here
This was reported by the Independent, where I said: "Any inference that in-person consultations were put on hold is an affront to the committed GPs who have continued to go to work throughout the pandemic". I was also interviewed on LBC about this.
Pharmacy changes to reduce GP workload
This week, we sent a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, calling for Government to amend medicines legislation to allow pharmacists to make changes to prescriptions and provide a different quantity, strength, formulation or generic version of the same medicine, if it is in short supply.
At a time of significant increase to GP workload and the problems with supply of medications, allowing pharmacists to make these changes so that patients can obtain their medicines in a timely manner would be helpful for both doctors and patients. We are working to try to reduce the bureaucracy that contributes to GP workload pressures and changes like this will go some way in addressing that, especially as we head into winter and at a time when we are seeing the number of patients with COVID-19 increase again. Read more here
Annual Representatives Meeting 2020
The BMA’s ARM was held this week. You can watch my presentation here
The meeting held a commemoration followed by a minute’s silence to pay our respects to the at least 34 doctors and many other colleagues, many of whom came from overseas to work in the NHS, who have died from COVID-19. Read more and watch the video here
Read more about the debate and what happened here
Revised Network Contract DES guidance (England)
NHSE/I has now published the revised Network Contract DES materials, which include:
· A cover note
· Amended 2020/21 Network Contract DES Specification
· Amended 2020/21 Network Contract DES Guidance
· IIF Guidance
· SMR Guidance
We will produce a brief summary in the next few days to outline the key areas.
Template letter to private providers about screening
We have co-badged a template letter with the Royal College of GPs, that practices can use to write to private providers offering non-approved screening tests. Numerous private companies are offering screening that is not recommended by the UK National Screening Committee (UKNSC), and there is a lack of evidence of how results of private screenings are presented in NHS services and is of benefit to patients, which is a cause of serious concern. This follows our joint Position Statement on Screening by organisations which have not been approved by the UKNSC, which was published last year.
You can also access the letter here
NHS Test and Trace App
The new NHS Test and Trace App will launch next week on 24 September. The QR codes are not intended for healthcare settings but for business and other public buildings that will be mandated to keep a record of those entering. If practices want to apply for and display a QR code they can do so voluntarily but there is no expectation or contractual requirement to do so.
Dr Krishna Kasareneni featured on the main BBC News bulletins on Tuesday 16 September, and again on BBC Look North yesterday, talking about the failures in the Test and Trace system. I have also done two interviews on BBC Look North this week about the widespread problems with testing and the rising number of cases, as well as interviews for BBC Radio Leeds and Greatest Hits Radio national stations.
This document from CQRS contain a reminder of the payment declaration and details around the signing onto CQRS from the 23rd September.
NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme
Applications for the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme opened on 15 September 2020. This is an educational workforce development programme designed for healthcare professionals who want to develop and scale their most innovative ideas for patient benefit.
The programme was launched in 2016 and has already recruited over 500 individuals including doctors, dentists, pharmacists and nurses from a range of diverse backgrounds. Places on this programme will be offered through a competitive process, to applicants who have developed clinical innovations to improve patient care and support service redesign through commercial and non-commercial enterprises. You can find more about this programme, and the application portal, here
See this week’s GP bulletin here.