NHS GPs To Postpone Face To Face Appointments

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Doctors to focus on COVID booster jabs

GPs have been told to postpone face to face appointments and non-urgent care after the NHS has gone back on the highest level of emergency due to the rise of coronavirus cases and concerns about the impact of Omicron variant.

The NHS has been advised to focus on booster jabs and urgent clinical need, which means:

  • Patients are likely to have to wait until the New Year to see a GP face to face (with the exception of urgent patients, including cancer symptoms)
  • Hospitals have been asked to discharge patients and send them home or into care homes, hospitals – even hotels
  • Certain non-urgent hospital procedures will be postponed (e.g. knee/hip replacement)

Sajid Javid told MPs that these decisions were necessary in order to enable primary care services to focus on the rollout of booster vaccinations. He said:

“…for the next two weeks, all primary care services will focus on urgent clinical need and vaccines, and some non-urgent appointments and elective surgeries may be postponed until the New Year while we prioritise getting people the booster. “

NHS England GPs have received a letter requesting they ‘free up maximum capacity’ to support the booster effort. The letter suggests this could involve ‘pausing’ routine or non-urgent care. It also said that hospitals may need to cancel operations. It said:

“If we don’t do this now, the wave of Omicron could be so big that cancellations and disruptions would be even greater.”

Prof Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, expressed concern about the impact on service, saying:

“Practices understand the need to prioritise the booster programme and it is important that we are provided with guidance by NHS England to help us to de-prioritise non-essential work.”

Meanwhile, charities and healthcare experts have warned that restricting access to GPs and delaying surgery will seriously impact the care and service doctors can provide. Ultimately the consequences of this could be detrimental to the health of a great many people.

Rachel Power, Patients Association Chief Executive, commented:

“Patients who are facing delays must have clear information about what is happening, when they will be treated, and how to care for themselves at home while they’re waiting.”

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director, added:

“If you are an older person who has already been waiting for an operation for some time, the news that non-urgent surgery is being put on hold must be a hammer blow.”

GP Availability London

The news comes at a time when the NHS was already under considerable strain with many patients complaining about how difficult it is to see a doctor – either in person or even via a phone call.

This could mean a ticking time bomb of undiagnosed and untreated conditions, with further delays likely to exacerbate the situation.

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“London’s pre-eminent integrated healthcare clinics” The Smart Clinics is a private healthcare company established in 2013, offering a membership-based alternative to NHS care for individuals and families. Vital health services include private GPs, travel clinic, sexual health, skin treatments, psychology, physiotherapy and much more. There are also a range of children’s services available, including immunisation and health visitors and the Chelsea clinic includes a dentistry studio.

The Smart Clinics brings together a host of medical professionals offering patients high quality health services in a choice of accessible London clinic locations.

For more information contact us on info@thesmartclinics.co.uk or call  020 7052 0070.

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