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Instead of picking a fight with GPs, NHS bosses should focus on ways to reform primary care

The attention and resources given to hospitals always seems to overshadow primary care, says Ian Hamilton. That’s despite the vast majority of care now being delivered by GPs

Tuesday 15 September 2020 09:52 BST
GPs have been angered after an apparent NHS U-turn on face to face appointment advice
GPs have been angered after an apparent NHS U-turn on face to face appointment advice (Getty)

The worst way to try and persuade a group or individual to change is by threatening them, but this doesn’t seem to have put off senior NHS England officials when they sent a letter to all GP practices in England reminding them of their duty to offer face to face appointments - or else.

Whatever senior NHS official came up with this idea had clearly not attended the training on how to motivate your staff. Senior NHS staff should have learned by now that in any skirmish with doctors there is always one winner, doctors. Successive governments and health ministers have taken on medics at their peril. The founding father of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan, famously said that he only achieved his goal of establishing the NHS by “stuffing the doctors’ mouths with gold”.

Predictably the Royal College of GPs and doctors union, the British Medical Association, have come out fighting. Rightly asserting that it was at the request of the Department of Health that they reduced face to face appointments at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in order to reduce both the risk to patients and doctors. 

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