When will GP surgeries offer face to face appointments?
14 May 2021, 15:55
When can I book a face-to-face appointment with the GP in England?
While the country has been in lockdown, many GP surgeries have been seeing patients in telephone and online appointments.
England will be going into its third stage of lockdown-easing on Monday May 17, which will see a number of current measures lifted.
Here's what we know about when you'll be able to have face-to-face GP appointments again.
When will GPs offer face-to-face appointments?
While some face-to-face appointments have been offered by GPs where necessary during the pandemic, all surgeries have been told that they must offer them from Monday May 17.
NHS England sent a letter to surgeries on Thursday explaining the new rule, which also stated that they should have in in-person reception desk.
As reported by the Evening Standard, Surgeries were told that online and telephone appointments can remain if they are of benefit to patients, but face-to-face must also be an option.
Practices should have a person at their reception desk, so that people without access to telephones and the internet will not be at a disadvantage.
The new system will mark an end to the 'total triage' system introduced during the pandemic.
Total triage was introduced during the pandemic, and it saw patients remotely screened and directed to the most appropriate health service.
Prior to the pandemic, around 70 per cent of GP appointments were face-to-face, while 30 per cent were over the phone.
In a joint letter from joint letter from Dr Nikki Kanani, medical director for primary care at NHS England, and Ed Waller, director of primary care, doctors were told: Patients and clinicians have a choice of consultation mode."
They added: "Patients’ input into this choice should be sought and practices should respect preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary."
If a patient has Covid symptoms, they can be refused an appointment.
They letter added: “Patients should be treated consistently regardless of mode of access.
"Ideally, a patient attending the practice reception should be triaged on the same basis as they would be via phone or via an online consultation system."
Speaking about the new system, Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the RCGP, said: This is good news and is what patients and GPs want to see. It removes ambiguity and we are particularly pleased that our calls for shared decision-making between GP and patient on the most appropriate method of consultation have been heard.
“We now have a flexible approach decided upon by clinicians and their patients."