Boris Johnson warns thousands will ‘suffer’ unless face-to-face GP consultations are brought back – and says patients are ‘entitled’ to in-person visits
- Boris Johnson warned people would ‘suffer’ without face-to-face consultations
- He said appointments were vital for spotting life-threatening conditions early
- PM rejected a top GPs suggestion that appointments may never return to pre-pandemic levels
- Poll finds eight in ten believe they should be able to have in-person consultation
Boris Johnson last night said people were ‘entitled’ to see their GP in person – as he warned that thousands would ‘suffer’ unless face-to-face consultations were reinstated.
Speaking to reporters in the US, the Prime Minister said in-person appointments were vital in ensuring life-threatening conditions were picked up early.
And he firmly rejected a warning from the head of the Royal College of GPs that face-to-face appointments may never return to pre-pandemic level.
Before the pandemic, about 80 per cent of consultations took place in a doctor’s surgery – but as of July, the figure stood at just 57 per cent.
Boris Johnson last night said people were ‘entitled’ to see their GP in person – as he warned that thousands would ‘suffer’ unless face-to-face consultations were reinstated
A poll for the Daily Mail today shows 85 per cent of people believe they should be able to have a face-to-face consultations if they want one.
It follows the launch of this newspaper’s five-point manifesto, calling for greater access to doctors, and demanding the Government to make good on its manifesto pledge for 6,000 more GPs.
Mr Johnson’s intervention came a day after Britain’s top GP rejected calls to give all patients the right to in-person consultations.
Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, told MPs on Tuesday that Covid safety measures and high demand mean it is not possible to offer in-person consultations to people simply because they would ‘like’ one.
A poll for the Daily Mail today shows 85 per cent of people believe they should be able to have a face-to-face consultations if they want one
Asked about Professor Marshall’s comments, Mr Johnson said: ‘People should see their GPs in person if that’s what they need.
‘Some people will be happy with other contact or reassurance, but a lot of people will need a face-to-face appointments and all the reassurance that gives. I want to see GPs seeing the right people at the right time and the right place.’
He added: ‘We are pledged to deliver another 50 million GP appointments. People need the security and confidence that they will be treated in person by a GP who can have proper hands-on understanding of the problem they have got. That is only reasonable.
‘I am absolutely certain that – unless we can deliver that – there will be people sadly whose symptoms are not picked up and who will suffer as a result.’
Last night oncologist Professor Karol Sikora said the value of face-to-face appointments cannot be overstated.
Mr Johnson also firmly rejected a warning from Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, that face-to-face appointments may never return to pre-pandemic level
‘This is really important because cancer starts in organs – that is stage one, and if cancers are found at this stage there is a 90 per cent chance of a cure,’ he said.
‘Once cancers get to stage three, it’s less than 20 per cent so it’s very important to get it at stage one. By not seeing patients face to face earlier, we will see more patients developing stage three cancer.’
Lisa Cameron, chairman of the all-party health group in Westminster, said: ‘The Daily Mail’s campaign is really important and giving a voice to vulnerable patients with nowhere to turn. It’s very important patients get back to seeing GPs face to face, so we can identify issues such as cancer at the earliest opportunity.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘The NHS has been clear GP practices must provide face-to-face appointments, alongside remote consultations, and over half of all appointments in July were face to face.’