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Why are GP practices working differently?

GP practices are open but the pandemic is not over

The pandemic changed the way all GPs had to work – in ways that kept patients and staff safe from Covid.

This has meant things like asking patients to wear masks in surgeries; and assessing people over the phone or asking them to fill out online consultation forms first.

This is so the people who need to be seen fastest are seen first, in person if required; but it also means others can have consultations over the phone to avoid contacts on crowded travel or taking time off work, have prescriptions sent directly to local pharmacies, or be seen quickly by someone else in the practice like a nurse.

The Covid pandemic is not over and across north east London there are still thousands of people getting Covid-19, with hundreds in intensive care in our hospitals.

With the end of lockdowns we have seen a huge surge in built-up demand and each week in north east London we are managing thousands more requests for care than before the pandemic, with some of our GP surgeries reporting a 50% increase in requests for consultations.

This increase in workload and some of the changes mentioned has led to some frustration amongst patients and regrettably, in some cases, the physical and verbal abuse of our staff. Abuse of our staff is never acceptable. We are clear that violence, or the causing of nuisance or disturbance on NHS premises may result in prosecution or people being refused access to care.  

In some cases if you contact your GP practice with a minor illness that can be assessed and treated more quickly by a local pharmacist; with your consent, they will send an electronic referral to the community pharmacy of your choice for a same day consultation.

Attached you can find a poster, leaflet and screens explaining why things are working a bit differently.

New national materials

NHS England has produced a new set of materials that help to educate patients on their choice of access route. Whether requesting care online, via your GP website, by phone or in person, patients will get the care they need at the right time from the right person. 

The general practice access route campaign materials—including posters, leaflets and reception counter cards—can be found in the Campaign Resource Centre (NHS Staff only) here.