Boris Johnson warns thousands will ‘suffer’ unless face-to-face GP consultations are reduced – and says patients are ‘entitled’ to face-to-face visits
- Boris Johnson warned people would ‘suffer’ without personal consultation
- He said appointments were vital for early recognition of life-threatening conditions
- PM rejected a suggestion from top GPs that appointments may never return to pre-pandemic levels
- Poll shows that eight in ten think they should be able to have personal consultations
Boris Johnson said last night that people have “the right” to see their GP in person – as he warned thousands would “suffer” if the personal consultations were not reinstated.
Speaking to reporters in the US, the prime minister said face-to-face appointments are vital to ensure that life-threatening conditions are caught early.
And he firmly rejected a warning from the head of the Royal College of GPs that personal appointments may never return to pre-pandemic levels.
Before the pandemic, about 80 percent of consultations took place in a doctor’s office, but in July it had fallen to 57 percent.
Boris Johnson said last night people have ‘the right’ to see their GP in person – as he warned thousands would ‘suffer’ unless face-to-face consultations were reintroduced
A poll for today’s Daily Mail shows that 85 percent of people think they should be able to have a face-to-face conversation if they want to.
It follows the launch of this newspaper’s five-point manifesto, calling for greater access to doctors and asking the government to deliver on its promise of 6,000 additional GPs.
Mr Johnson’s intervention came a day after Britain’s top GP turned down calls to give all patients the right to face-to-face consultations.
Martin Marshall, president of the Royal College of GPs, told MPs on Tuesday that Covid security measures and high demand mean it is not possible to give people in-person consultations simply because they would “want” one.
A poll for today’s Daily Mail shows that 85 percent of people think they should be able to have a personal consultation if they want to
Asked about Professor Marshall’s comments, Mr Johnson said: ‘People should see their GP in person if that’s what they need.
‘Some people will be happy with other contact or reassurance, but many people need a face-to-face meeting and all the reassurance that it provides. I want GPs to see the right people at the right time and in the right place.’
He added: ‘We have committed to deliver another 50 million GP appointments. People need the assurance and confidence that they are being treated personally by a GP who can fully understand the problem they have. That’s only reasonable.
“I’m absolutely certain that unless we can make that happen, unfortunately there will be people whose symptoms are not picked up and who will suffer.”
Oncologist Professor Karol Sikora said last night that the value of personal appointments cannot be overstated.
Mr Johnson also firmly rejected a warning from Martin Marshall, president of the Royal College of GPs, that personal appointments may never return to pre-pandemic levels.
“This is really important because cancer starts in organs — that’s stage one, and if cancer is found at this stage, there’s a 90 percent chance of a cure,” he said.
“Once cancers reach stage three, it’s less than 20 percent, so it’s very important to get it to stage one.” By not seeing patients face to face sooner, we will see more patients develop stage three cancer.”
Lisa Cameron, chair of the all-party health group in Westminster, said: ‘The Daily Mail’s campaign is very important and gives a voice to vulnerable patients who have nowhere to go. It is very important that patients can see their GP in person again, so that we can identify problems such as cancer as quickly as possible.’
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘The NHS is clear that GP practices should offer face-to-face appointments in addition to remote consultations, and more than half of all appointments in July were face-to-face.’
Phone Chats Couldn’t Pick Up Hospice Caregiver’s Cancer
A hospice caretaker who died of cancer after struggling to arrange a personal doctor’s appointment had been “failed by the system,” her grieving daughters say.
Gill Dutton, 65, devoted ten years of her life to providing end-of-life care to cancer patients at St Giles Hospice in Tamworth, Staffordshire.
But when she developed a persistent cough at the start of the pandemic, the grandmother of three was offered only brief telephone consultations.
Gill Dutton with her daughter Lisa McBlane, 33
Her GP dismissed her cough at her first appointment in April last year, saying it was probably caused by having had Covid and it would go away on its own.
Six months later, a severely delayed CT scan revealed she had developed stage four lung cancer, and doctors gave her only three years to live.
Although she responded well to her first two rounds of chemotherapy, she developed a chest infection in July.
The former carer died at home in Tamworth last month, leaving behind her husband, two daughters and a son.
Both of Mrs Dutton’s bereaved daughters are supporting the Daily Mail’s campaign today and say they hope to prevent future heartbreak for others.
Her eldest daughter Liz Parker, 35, said: “Nothing we can do will bring Mom back, but if this campaign helps prevent someone from going through the same thing, it’ll be worth it.
“Mommy would do anything for anyone. She really devoted her life to taking care of others. So it makes it even more painful that she hasn’t been cared for as she should have been.’
Ms Dutton’s youngest daughter, Lisa McBlane, 33, also believes her mother might have survived had she been treated earlier.
The NHS midwife asked, ‘Why weren’t the signs noticed sooner? I can only think that their [the doctors’] judgment was clouded by the pandemic.’
Both daughters now plan to write to their GP asking for answers about their mother’s care.
Ms Parker added: ‘It is fair to say that the system has let her down. If my mother had been seen before, she might still be here.’