Three out of five GP appointments "face to face"
Three out of five GP appointments in Northumberland were held face-to-face despite family doctors being urged to see more patients in person, new figures reveal.
Data from NHS England shows 165,000 GP appointments were carried out in June in the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group area, 58% of which involved a face-to-face meeting – up on the May figure of 57% but a significant drop from 76% in June 2019.
NHS England issued guidance to GPs in May urging them to offer more face-to-face appointments but, nationally, just 56% of consultations were held in person in June.
The Royal College of GPs said family doctors have worked hard to ensure the same level of care during remote consultations but warned that general practice should not become a remote service post-pandemic.
Dr Gary Howsam, vice chairman, said: “GP practices, like other healthcare environments, are high risk for disease transmission and are at the centre of delivering care to vulnerable patients, so it is still vital to maintain infection control.
“Face-to-face consulting is a core part of general practice.”
An NHS spokesman said GPs had carried out 275million appointments during the pandemic – half of which took place in person and on the same or next day.
The Department for Health and Social Care said the Government was grateful for the "tireless" efforts of GPs and their teams.
A spokesman said “The Government has invested £270million to expand GP capacity so they can cope with the increased demands and recovery pressures as a result of Covid-19.”