The rate of confront-to-confront GP consultations within England has changed little since the winter coronavirus lockdown, latest data shows
Just 58% patients were seen in confront-to-confront GP appointments in August, the first complete month following the ending of restrictions.
That compares with 54% back in January, and over 80% before the coronavirus pandemic, according to the data coming from NHS Digital.
GPs have said that rising need and shortages of staff had meant that they were struggling to see more in people confront-to-confront appointments.
The problems have started to have a knock-on effect on A&E departments, with emergency care doctors saying that a without of GP access is a meaningful factor in the high numbers turning up at the nation’s hospitals.
This comes after thousands of people, including meaningful NHS staff and teachers have said that they are unable to get to work due as a consequence of the national fuel shortage crisis, with some facing the prospect of potentially returning to working from home where possible.
Ministers and NHS England have demanded that more patients have in-person consultations, and say that GPs are currently being given the money to provide them.
Katie Awdas lives with endometriosis, a painful chronic condition.
by the COVID-19 pandemic she has needed surgery, in addition as other medical treatment.
It disrupted her work as a teacher and is a period of time she has described as being “the most difficult of my life”.
Katie, who is in her mid 30s and lives in Manchester, needs regular check-ups as her symptoms change – but has not seen a GP confront-to-confront since the pandemic began.
“I’ve had to describe where the pain is – you can’t really show somebody where ‘here’ is over the phone.
“It’s frustrating. There were times where I thought this would be so much easier confront-to-confront.
“They had to guess on what was happening based on my description, and had to use a course of action of elimination in some situations – ‘try this and see if it works, if not we’ll try something else’. This caused excruciating pain on top of what was going on already.”
Before the pandemic, it was reported that more than 80% of patients were seen confront-to-confront in the surgery or via home visits.
This comes after a 12-week trial will look into whether or not nasal drops can help those who had lost their sense of smell after having the coronavirus. The “Apollo trial” will treat people who have experienced a loss of smell or changed sense of smell because of coronavirus using vitamin A nasal drops.
But during the first lockdown last spring, that dropped below 50% and has struggled to retrieve considerably since.
For all of this year it has been hovering between 50% and 60%.
GP leaders admitted they would like to keep up more confront-to-confront consultations, but there was simply not enough staff. Data shows the number of complete-time GPs has fallen by 7% in the past five years, despite a government excursion to increase the numbers.
The Covid vaccination programme, rising need partly pushed by people needing sustain as they have to wait longer for hospital treatment and the increased frailty in older populations because of the pandemic have all increased workload.
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