Remote appointments are not 'substandard or lazy', insist top GPs

Remote appointments are not ‘substandard or lazy’, insist top GPs despite admitting doctors are struggling to provide safe care for patients

  • Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) say they are outraged’ at criticsm 
  • But they acknowledged the service was in crisis blaming a shortage of doctors
  • Senior coroner said inability to see patients during pandemic added to deaths 

Top GPs have insisted remote appointments are not ‘substandard or lazy’ despite admitting doctors are struggling to provide safe care for patients.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) yesterday said they were ‘outraged’ at criticism over the lack of face-to-face appointments.

But they acknowledged the service was in crisis and that GPs were more likely to make mistakes and accidentally harm patients – blaming a shortage of doctors.

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) acknowledged the service was in crisis and that GPs were more likely to make mistakes and accidentally harm patients

Its comments came as senior coroner Alison Mutch warned the inability of patients to have in-person consultations during the pandemic has contributed to deaths.

But last night Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the RCGP, said it was wrong to suggest ‘remote consultations are substandard, harmful to patients and are being used by “lazy” GPs as an excuse for not seeing patents face to face in the surgery’.

He added: ‘The move to mainly remote consultations from the start of the pandemic was in line with government guidelines. 

‘It was necessary for infection control and to keep patients and GP teams as safe as possible. 

‘The real issue here is that the GP workforce is no longer big enough to meet the demands of a growing and ageing population. 

‘This was the case before the pandemic and the past 18 months have further exacerbated it.’

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the RCGP, said it was wrong to suggest ‘remote consultations are substandard, harmful to patients and are being used by “lazy” GPs as an excuse for not seeing patents face to face in the surgery’

The RCGP said the number of full time GPs has fallen by 4.5 per cent since 2015 despite a growing population.

Speaking to the Guardian, he added: ‘GPs are finding it increasingly hard to guarantee safe care to their patients.

‘The chances of making a mistake in a diagnosis or a mistake in a referral decision or in prescribing are all greater when you’re under stress.

‘And if you’re working 11-12-hour days, seeing 50-60 patients… the chances of you making a mistake, we all know, are higher.’

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