General practitioners will not be punished if they do not see patients within a fortnight, admitted Therese Coffey.
In a round of talks this morning, the new health secretary said two weeks was “an expectation” rather than a firm target.
Ms Coffey added that she did not want to be ‘too prescriptive of Whitehall’ on ‘exactly how a GP will run their practice’.
The comments come despite reports last night that ministers could name and shame worst-performing surgeries in the rankings.
Ms Coffey is due to unveil plans to improve access to family doctors this afternoon as public satisfaction with GPs is at an all-time low.
They include a request for family doctors to offer same-day appointments for the sickest patients and a maximum two-week wait for non-emergency patients.
But there will be skepticism about whether the plans will work or go far enough to make a real difference.
Ms Coffey’s plan also includes new phone systems to make it easier for receptionists to get through and keep callers informed of their place in the queue.
The changes are intended to ease the rush of 8 a.m. appointments and end the frustration of constant engaged tones or being left hanging.
There have been reports of patients calling over 60 times before finally coming through.
General practitioner practices will not be punished if they do not offer appointments to patients within a fortnight, admitted Therese Coffey
Ms Coffey told Times Radio that the government “would like GPs, where possible, to see very urgent cases on the same day”.
She said she didn’t ‘wanna not be prescriptive of Whitehall, of course not, the relationship between doctors and their patients is important, but one of the things we can do in particular working through the NHS local, integrated care councils, is to try to make sure that we share best practices and then focus on practices that may struggle to meet the expectations that I set out on behalf of patients”.
Ms Coffey said: “It will depend on the clinicians, of course, the doctors doing this triage, who they see on the same day and their prioritization.
“I think it’s fair that patients, when they call, aren’t told they potentially have to wait six weeks for appointments, and that’s when we see other people turn to parts of the NHS like A&E.”
On the need for more GPs, she said: “We certainly want more GPs, more clinicians, it’s all part of our longer term plan which has already been laid out.”
“What I’m doing at the moment is really focusing on ABCD – ambulances, backlogs, care, doctors and dentists – but I’m very aware that almost everyone who accesses the NHS does so through the through primary care, through their GP, and that’s why I put so much emphasis on what I’m going to do to try to help patients get what they want from GPs and to help doctors generalists to achieve this as well.
He was asked on LBC Radio if his promises meant that patients would have to see a GP face to face, or if a telephone or video consultation would do the trick.
“I think it’s open to the relationship between the GP and the patient,” she said.
“I know that throughout the pandemic people have interacted with their GP in a variety of ways. I’m not going to be too prescriptive.
“I know some people just like to have a phone call but may need to go see the doctor, I know other patients are very enthusiastic about that.”
She said more than half of the workouts already meet the expectations she set, but she “didn’t intend to take a ranking approach.”
When asked if GPs who underperform would face penalties, she replied: “Dare I say it…one of the points about also opening up and releasing data by practice is that it may give some patients the option to choose to use another GP and have that changed too.
Ms Coffey was asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain what she plans to do about 130,000 NHS vacancies.
She said patients were her “top priority and I will be their champion”.
Ms Coffey added: ‘That’s why I set expectations that when people call to try to get an appointment, of course some people will have to be seen the same day and the clinicians will decide that, but I think it’s a reasonable expectation that they should be able to see their GP within a fortnight’.
She said funding would be released so that different types of staff could be recruited and funded, such as pharmacists, which would allow GPs to ‘open their appointments’.
Asked about social care and relief from the problem of blocked beds in the NHS, Ms Coffey said this was being worked on, adding that there were thousands of people ‘in hospitals who have not need this clinical attention and would be best cared for outside of a hospital’.
Origin: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk