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Sajid Javid joins fight for more face-to-face GP appointments

Sajid Javid joins fight for more face-to-face GP appointments: Health Secretary vows to cut red tape in victory for Mail campaign

  • Mr Javid is looking at ways GPs can be saddled with less paperwork to encourage them to see more patients at clinics
  • By slashing bureaucracy, he hopes far fewer patients will have to make do with telephone or online consultations
  • This would reduce the risk that serious health conditions could be missed


Sajid Javid dramatically stepped in last night to ensure patients have face-to-face access to GPs.

In a significant victory for the Daily Mail’s campaign, the Health Secretary said he would slash red tape to give family doctors time to undertake more appointments in person.

Mr Javid is looking at ways GPs can be saddled with less paperwork to encourage them to see more patients at clinics, this paper can reveal.

By slashing bureaucracy, he hopes far fewer patients will have to make do with telephone or online consultations, reducing the risk that serious health conditions could be missed.

But the Health Secretary will warn doctors that those who continue to provide an unacceptably low level of face-to-face access will be held to account.

In a significant victory for the Daily Mail’s campaign, the Health Secretary said he would slash red tape to give family doctors time to undertake more appointments in person

By slashing bureaucracy, he hopes far fewer patients will have to make do with telephone or online consultations, reducing the risk that serious health conditions could be missed

By slashing bureaucracy, he hopes far fewer patients will have to make do with telephone or online consultations, reducing the risk that serious health conditions could be missed

Earlier this week, the Health Secretary met leaders from the British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs to discuss access to doctors and how the public can get face-to-face appointments.

A senior government source said: ‘GPs are doing a phenomenal job and we need to free up more of their time so they can focus on seeing patients rather than filing paperwork.

‘That is why we are urgently looking at ways to cut bureaucracy in the system. For many people telephone appointments are more convenient but of course those who want a face-to-face appointment should be able to get one.’

Additional support will be explored for GP practices that require it, while those performing to a poor standard will be held to account, the source added.

The Mail launched its campaign on Monday following growing concerns that serious illnesses were being missed because too many appointments were being held remotely. 

Earlier this week, the Health Secretary met leaders from the British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs to discuss access to doctors and how the public can get face-to-face appointments

Earlier this week, the Health Secretary met leaders from the British Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs to discuss access to doctors and how the public can get face-to-face appointments

Before the pandemic, more than 80 per cent of GP appointments nationally were in person – compared with just 57 per cent this July

Before the pandemic, more than 80 per cent of GP appointments nationally were in person – compared with just 57 per cent this July

Before the pandemic, more than 80 per cent of GP appointments nationally were in person – compared with just 57 per cent this July.

The Health Secretary has already backed the Mail’s campaign, saying: ‘I am committed to ensuring everyone – no matter who they are or where they live – can choose to see their GP face to face and I am grateful to the Daily Mail for launching this campaign.’

‘I had a phone chat… then nearly died’

After almost dying twice, Colin Rawlings calls the lack of face-to-face appointments ‘totally unacceptable’ – and warns: ‘People are going to die.’

The widower, 81, first had trouble in 2019 when a consultant treating him for a lung condition urged his GP to see him about a possible heart condition – without success. Weeks later he needed emergency heart surgery.

In March 2020 the retired businessman, pictured, of Saltdean, East Sussex, developed difficulty urinating and called several times for an appointment, but only got a phone consultation, which didn’t help as he is hard of hearing.

He later collapsed with sepsis and nearly died. He needed two days in intensive care and a week on a general ward.

Earlier this week Boris Johnson also spoke out in support of it, saying people were ‘entitled’ to see their GP in person.

He told reporters on his trip to the US that thousands would ‘suffer’ unless the pre-pandemic system was reinstated.

But GP leaders told the Commons earlier this week that face-to-face appointments would never return to pre-pandemic levels.

Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, told MPs on Tuesday that Covid safety measures and high demand mean it is impossible to offer consultations to patients in person simply because they would ‘like’ one.

However, oncologist Professor Karol Sikora, former director of the World Health Organisation’s cancer programme, last night welcomed Mr Javid’s intervention. 

He added: ‘It is true that there is way too much paperwork for GPs. We need this to be streamlined and we need to be able to empower GPs to book scans themselves.’

Dennis Reed, from pensioners’ campaign group Silver Voices, said: ‘This is an encouraging move and shows the Daily Mail’s campaign is having an effect at the Department of Health.

‘What we need now is a target for every GP practice on how many face-to-face appointments they should hold – a carrot and stick approach.’

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, added: ‘We’re not there yet but these are promising signs…

‘If a bonfire of paperwork helps free up more time for in-person appointments in local surgeries [then] I’m sure everyone would support it.’

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