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NHSE primary care lead acknowledges ‘huge’ increase to GP workload

by Sofia Lind
1 June 2020

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NHS England’s medical director for primary care has acknowledged GPs who say they are suddenly seeing an influx of workload, while Covid-19 cases are still rife.

Tagging Dr Nikki Kanani in the post, Leicestershire GP and LMC member Dr Grant Ingrams tweeted last Wednesday that his practice had experienced the ‘highest workload all year’ in the last two days, including a ‘huge transfer of work from hospitals’ coming amidst ‘still increasing Covid cases’.

GPs commenting on the post suggested the rise was linked to people venturing out more since the easing of the lockdown in England, as well as a backlog of routine work that has been building up since March.

Responding to the post, Dr Kanani said this ‘seems to be the case almost uniformly now’, adding that NHS England is ‘considering this’ as it reviews what work to ‘phase back in’ and ‘what to hold back’.

Tweeting in response to Dr Ingrams, Watford-based GP Dr Simon Hodes said he has seen an influx of work including patients with long-term health conditions requiring review as well as experiencing a ‘major issue’ with ‘rejected or delayed’ outpatient appointments. In addition, he said GPs were ‘getting dental enquiries’.

‘Would normally not treat these – but at present we are being more flexible,’ he added.

At the end of April, GPs were advised to resume the delivery of ‘routine and preventative work’ including screening.

But over the past couple of weeks Dr Kanani has advised that GPs should base their resumption of routine services on capacity and clinical need, and only resume work where it was safe to do so.

And Dr Ingrams told Management in Practice’s sister publication, Pulse: ‘Every day has been 10 hours without break so far [during the week].’

The news that workload is now rising comes as the number of GP appointments in England declined by more than six million in April 2020 compared with the same point in 2019, representing a 27% drop, according to the latest NHS Digital data.

Nearly two-thirds of consultations (63%) took place on the same day they were booked during April and nearly half (48%) were via telephone.

In his tweet, Dr Hodes said: ‘Telehealth is convenient but can take longer and [increases] clinical risk.’