COVID-19, and particularly the rise of remote consulting, has posed challenges for the delivery of effective relationship-based care, and relationships between GPs and patients must be prioritised as we make choices about what the service should look like post-pandemic.
Reinvigorating relationship-based care is a 2020-23 policy and campaigning priority for the RCGP.
General practice COVID-19 recovery: the future role of remote consultations & patient ‘triage’
The future role of remote consultations & patient ‘triage’ is the first in a series of RCGP reports, setting out how general practice should function in a post-COVID environment. Remote consultations have played a significant role in GP's being able to continue to provide care throughout the pandemic, whilst ensuring effective infection control in practices.
As the vaccination programme is rolled out and social distance restrictions ease however, we expect to see a rebalancing of remote and face-to-face consultations. This poses a challenge for the Government and health systems, to build upon the benefits that have emerged from new ways of working during the pandemic, whilst ensuring that relational care and health inequalities do not suffer in the longer-term.
Our new report therefore calls on the government to:
- invest £1 billion in digital infrastructure for general practice to build on some of the capabilities which enable remote care
- review and improve digital patient triage platforms and processes, and produce guidance for patients and staff to support effective implementation
- ensure GPs and wider teams have access to the tools, training, guidance and support in routinely using digital tools in their practice
- implement targeted strategies to support equal patient access to care
- commission research into models of triage and remote consultations to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of existing methods
General Practice in Crisis: An Action Plan for Recovery (England)
GPs and practice teams have played a pivotal role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, working hard to provide care for their patients and taking a central role in delivering the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
Even before the pandemic, millions of patients a week were seen in general practice and GPs were already under immense workload and workforce pressures.
As we move beyond the ‘emergency’ pandemic period, general practice – the foundation stone of our healthcare system – is now at breaking point. It is clear that the pressures on general practice are now unsustainable and must be urgently addressed.
Our new report, General Practice in Crisis: An Action Plan for Recovery, sets our five priority actions for Government to take to improve care for patients in general practice:
- Ramp-up efforts to deliver the 2019 Conservative manifesto target of 6,000 more FTE GPs before 2024.
- Undertake a system-wide programme to eradicate unnecessary general practice workload by 2024, to allow GPs more time to care and prevent GP burnout.
- Recruit and properly integrate at least 26,000 other members of staff into the general practice workforce by 2024.
- Ensure infrastructure within general practice is fit for purpose by 2024, to allow GPs to deliver care, in a safe way using reliable technology.
- Enable GPs to have a strong voice in integrated care systems and in designing care for the communities they serve.
You can download our Action Plan, and write to your MP setting out the challenges in your surgery.
General practice is open
The Royal College of GPs launched a resource for GP practices urging patients to continue accessing primary care services when they need to. General practice is open – and has been throughout the pandemic – but because of Coronavirus the way patients are seen in primary care has changed.
Our resource describes the way in which services are offered – and how most appointments are currently carried out over the phone or via video in the first instance. We are reiterating to patients that if a face to face appointment is needed you will still be seen in person by a GP.
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