The nine commandments of the NHS blueprint… and what they really mean – SHAUN WOOLLER investigates

The Daily Mail launched its campaign to improve access to GPs after being inundated with horrifying stories from readers who struggled to be seen in person.

The revolution it has brought about is an extraordinary achievement that will undoubtedly benefit patients and the NHS. 

Today’s new NHS England and Department of Health blueprint will help ensure all five points of the Mail’s original manifesto for change are delivered.

It will improve access to GPs, get patients and doctors back into face-to-face contact more often and boost safety.

Here are the nine key points of today’s announcement – and what they mean:

1 Patients’ right to face-to-face appointments

What they’re announcing: Health officials have made it clear that every GP practice must ask patients what form they would like their appointment to take.

What it means:

Doctors must respect preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary – for example, if the patient has Covid.

This means surgeries can no longer fob people off with a remote consultation if they want to be in the same room as their medic.

People can still choose to have their appointment on the phone or by video if it is more convenient.

Under the Government’s new nine-point plan, family doctors must respect their patient’s preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary

Conducting appointments in-person will allow doctors to spot symptoms they could not have detected remotely and improve the patient-doctor relationship.

Elderly and vulnerable patients who lacked the technology needed for remote consultations or struggled to use it will no longer feel excluded.

2 More money for more appointments

What they’re announcing: A £250million winter access fund will let practices offer more appointments so patients who need care can get it – on the same day, if needed.

What it means:

The money will pay for locums and other health professionals, such as physiotherapists and podiatrists, with a focus on increasing capacity.

Surgeries will be encouraged to extend opening hours or operate walk-in clinics, making it easier for patients to be seen quickly at a convenient time.

A £250million winter access fund, announced by the Government today, will let practices offer more appointments so patients who need care can get it - on the same day if needed

A £250million winter access fund, announced by the Government today, will let practices offer more appointments so patients who need care can get it – on the same day if needed

3 ‘Hit squads’ and cash penalties to keep GPs on track

What they’re announcing: GP practices that fail to improve access will face special measures and be denied a share of additional funding.

What it means:

Poor performers will see specialist ‘hit squad’ teams sent in to knock them into shape.

This should ensure patients have access to good quality care. Denying surgeries that fail to improve access a share of the new pot of cash will act as an incentive.

4 Better phone systems

What they’re announcing: The NHS will help practices upgrade telephone systems to make it easier for patients to book appointments and cut waits to speak to a receptionist.

The Government has also announced the NHS will help practices upgrade telephone systems to make it easier for patients to book appointments and cut waits to speak to a receptionist

The Government has also announced the NHS will help practices upgrade telephone systems to make it easier for patients to book appointments and cut waits to speak to a receptionist

What it means:

New technology will make it easier for staff to manage queues. This will reduce the frustration of trying to reach a surgery, with some people dialling hundreds of times. 

Patient groups report some elderly people have given up attempting to see their GP because of the stress of phoning.

5 Less paperwork and more help from pharmacists

What they’re announcing: The Government will free GPs from some red tape by reforming who can provide medical evidence and certificates, such as fit notes and DVLA checks. Pharmacists will become the first port of call for most minor illnesses.

What it means:

Lessening the burden of paperwork will make the job more attractive and help bring in more trainees, in a boost to the commitment to recruit 6,000 more GPs.

Less paperwork: The Government says it will free GPs from some red tape by reforming who can provide medical evidence and certificates, such as fit notes and DVLA checks for example

Less paperwork: The Government says it will free GPs from some red tape by reforming who can provide medical evidence and certificates, such as fit notes and DVLA checks for example

Getting highly-skilled nurses and pharmacists to perform some checks will free up GPs for more complex issues.

Pharmacists will be given greater powers to write prescriptions and treat patients for routine conditions.

6 Relaxation of guidelines on social distancing

What they’re announcing: The two-metre social distancing rule, which applies in surgeries, will be axed.

What it means:

GPs have argued that strict Covid rules prevent them from seeing more patients in person because their waiting rooms are too small to accommodate them.

No social distancing: The two-metre social distancing rule, which applies at GPs, will be axed

No social distancing: The two-metre social distancing rule, which applies at GPs, will be axed

7 Performance league tables

What they’re announcing: GP appointment data will be published at practice level by spring next year to enhance transparency and accountability.

What it means:

Naming and shaming individual GP practices that fail to offer enough face-to-face appointments or that have long waits to be seen will incentivise doctors to improve. 

Producing league tables will allow patients to compare their practice with others in their town and increase competition.

8 Easier patient feedback via text message

What they’re announcing: Making it simpler for patients to rate their practice’s performance.

As part of the plans, a new campaign is being launched to reduce the abuse of NHS workers

As part of the plans, a new campaign is being launched to reduce the abuse of NHS workers

What it means:

This will give doctors and NHS managers a clearer picture of what patients do and do not like about their surgery and make it easier to identify recurring problems, so they can be improved.

9 Zero tolerance campaign on abuse of NHS staff

What they’re announcing: A new campaign to reduce abuse and punish offenders.

What it means:

Unacceptable behaviour by frustrated patients drives much-needed doctors out of jobs and creates an environment that is not attractive to new recruits.

Ministers and the NHS hope a new campaign will prevent a disastrous exodus of staff and ensure more medical trainees want to work in general practice.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *