New research has found that most Wanstead residents would prefer an online booking system but a face-to-face consultation when visiting their doctor.
Sixty-two percent of respondents to a Facebook poll wanted to book online but meet in person, while 25% preferred a triage system in which they completed an online form and their GP decided whether a face-to-face appointment was necessary.
The findings follow recent debate in the media after patients expressed frustration about not being able to book a face-to-face consulation with GPs during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that following the outcry Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS Medical Director for Primary Care, and Ed Waller, Director of Primary Care, have written to GPs outlining new guidance. The Telegraph claims the letter states:
“GP practices must all ensure they are offering face-to-face appointments.
“While the expanded use of video, online and telephone consultations can be maintained where patients find benefit from them, this should be done alongside a clear offer of appointments in person.
“Practices should respect preferences for face-to-face care.”
A review on the NHS website dated 17 March 2021 for The Wanstead Place Surgery states:
“In response to a query I’d submitted to the practice I was phoned by a doctor, at the appointed time. The conversation was kind, thorough, informative and unrushed and I was asked if there was anything else that was worrying me.”
A comment dated 16 October 2020 states:
“Since you can not get to see any doctor but have to wait for a phone call the service is very poor.”
A review posted on the 16 April 2021 for The Evergreen Surgery on Wanstead High Street states:
“I have visited this practice a few times over the years as an emergency patient and more recently had my 2 Covid injections there. I cannot praise this surgery enough.”
A comment dated 17 March 2021 claims:
“Reception staff are rude and make assumptions without asking questions…Doctors are lovely, if you can get near them.”
Following news of the updated NHS guidance, Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said:
“Patients have made clear how difficult they have been finding access to GP services, and that most commonly they clearly prefer to see their GP in person. We called for the restoration of in-person appointments as the default option when we published our second Pandemic Patient Experience report, which showed starkly how patients have been struggling to access primary care in a way that meets their needs.
“It will be a great relief to many patients to know that their GP should now unquestionably be offering face to face appointments. We saw how media reports of our findings clearly resonated with patients and arose strong feelings. We hope that many patients will now be able to rebuild their relationships with their GPs and benefit from the assurance that will bring them.”