GPs have said that patients wanting face-to-face appointments must expect to wait as they push back against a directive from NHS England.
A letter sent to doctors on Thursday stressed that they should ensure that they were seeing patients in person and should “respect preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary”.
The British Medical Association (BMA) called on NHS bosses to “clarify” how they should meet demand, while the Doctors’ Association UK said that surgeries did not have the resources “to offer everyone who would like it a face-to-face appointment”.
All practice receptions should be open to patients, while adhering to social distancing and infection control measures, the NHS letter added.
GPs were told last year at the height of the first wave to triage patients on the telephone or online before offering appointments in person. NHS plans initially suggested that this “total triage” approach should continue.
A report from the Royal College of GPs this week opposed that idea but the sudden change in approach this week angered medical leaders.
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