The new Standard Operating Procedure directive does not help GPs.
Commenting on the NHS England’s updated Standard Operating procedures for GP services, QCS’s Head of Primary Care, Tracy Green, said:
“Yesterday, NHS England wrote to GPs to provide them with Standard Operating Procedure guidance ahead of Monday, May, 17th when National Coronavirus restrictions will be eased further.
The letter quoted the chair of the Royal College of GPs who does not wish “to see general practice become a totally, or even mostly, remote service”.
The letter goes on to state that “practices should respect preferences for face to face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary”.
As a former Practice Manager, with over two decades’ experience, I believe that this new directive falls into direct conflict with the Triage First model, which gives clinicians the freedom and the autonomy to make the best appointment decision – whether it be face to face or remotely – based on the needs of the patient.
I believe if GPs are bound by this guidance, there is a considerable risk that it will cause confusion to patients – especially if GP surgeries are not open during contracted hours.
Moving forward, it is absolutely crucial that NHS England and professional organisations do not lose sight of the fact that GP practices are independent businesses, who also need to safeguard their teams from Covid-19.
The best way of ensuring Covid-safe surgeries is not issue binary and blanket guidance on behalf of GPs, but to trust GPs to continue to carry out robust risk assessments, which, collectively during the pandemic, have seen them deliver half of all appointments in person. Deploying rigorous but malleable risk assessment modelling has not only ensured that staff and patients are kept as safe as possible, but that surgeries are able to offer a variety of appointment options to meet patient and business needs. This works. Why put it at risk?”