Fewer than two thirds of GP appointments "face to face"
Fewer than two thirds of GP appointments in the Hartlepool area were held face-to-face despite family doctors being urged to see more patients in person, new figures reveal.
Data from NHS England shows 347,000 GP appointments were carried out in June in the NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group area, 64% of which involved a face-to-face meeting – the same as in May.
NHS England issued guidance to GPs in May urging them to offer more face-to-face appointments but, nationally, just 56% of consultations were held in person in June.
The Royal College of GPs said that family doctors have worked hard to ensure the same level of care during remote consultations but warned that general practice should not become a remote service post-pandemic.
Dr Gary Howsam, vice chairman, said: “GP practices, like other healthcare environments, are high risk for disease transmission and are at the centre of delivering care to vulnerable patients, so it is still vital to maintain infection control.
“Face-to-face consulting is a core part of general practice.”
An NHS spokesman said GPs had carried out 275 million appointments during the pandemic – half of which took place in person and on the same or next day.
The Department for Health and Social Care said the Government was grateful for the "tireless" efforts of GPs and their teams.
A spokesman said “The Government has invested £270m to expand GP surgery capacity so they can cope with the increased demands and recovery pressures as a result of Covid-19.”