“I am receiving a very small, but increasing, number of constituents writing to me frustrated that they are unable to secure appointments with their GPs for face to face consultations” says Michael Fabricant.
“While it is often more convenient for both patients and their GPs to have a consultation by phone saving time for both parties, this is not always appropriate. I have also received complaints from consultants who are being referred patients by GPs who have not properly examined their patients. The consequence is that consultants are seeing the ‘worried well’ which causes knock-on delays for those who really do need treatment.”
While in the United States yesterday (22nd September), the Prime Minister told journalists that patients should have “the security and confidence that they will be treated in person by a GP who can have proper hands-on understanding of the problem they have got”.
Michael adds “Of course I know that most GPs are very hard working and are under considerable time pressures. Some patients can be diagnosed remotely by GPs using remote diagnostic techniques and often, patients could equally well see qualified pharmacists who are able to prescribe suitable medication. This is effective and is widely used on the continent. But this is not always appropriate and having explored other possibilities, patients should have the right to see their GP face to face.
“As a Member of Parliament, I cannot instruct individual GPs on how to conduct themselves in their own clinical practice and nor should I. However, I have now taken up this general issue with ministers at the Department of Health making it plain that steps must be taken to enable patients to see their GPs for face to face consultations when this is required.
“I fear that a small minority of GPs in the UK are taking advantage of the changes put in place during the height of the Covid pandemic to maintain distance working when this is not always clinically appropriate” Michael adds.
“But having said that, we must also acknowledge the wonderful work undertaken by GPs during this pandemic including playing a major part in the Covid vaccination programme.”