GPs are ‘shutting out’ patients which could lead to illnesses going untreated

Coronavirus deaths peaked between 9 and 13 April in all seven NHS England regions, at a time when London was reporting a daily average of over 200 deaths. The region is now reporting two deaths.

The North West and Midlands are the only two regions with more than five average daily deaths and the South West region, which has had the fewest deaths of the seven NHS England regions, has reported only one hospital death between 27 June and 3 July.

Some doctors worry the growing reliance on telephone appointments during the pandemic could lead to doctors missing vital signs of more serious problems.

Chris Moulton, an A&E consultant in Bolton, said: “We need to get back to face to face medicine and open access for patients immediately. Virtual consultations are great for patients in some situations but they are no replacement for clinical examination in many acute conditions. The reputation of our profession depends on it.”

Dr Jonathan Leach, Honorary Secretary for the Royal College of GPs, emphasised that GP surgeries had remained open throughout the pandemic.

He said: “Whilst general practice services have been available for patients, the way care has been delivered has been different, with most consultations being made remotely – however, if face to face appointments are necessary, they are being facilitated. This way of working will suit some patients better than others, but generally throughout the pandemic, feedback from members is that patients have been receptive and understanding about the changes.”

An NHS spokesperson said: “Face-to-face appointments remain available for everyone who needs one, with over 50 million appointments delivered by GPs and their teams over the course of the pandemic, in addition to a three-fold increase in remote consultations which offer a convenient, safe option for patients to access care.”

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