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PCN action vital to challenging anti-GP media narrative, top GP suggests

by Management in Practice reporters
26 November 2021

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Messages from Primary Care Networks (PCNs) have a key role in challenging negative media coverage over GP access, leading GP Dr Farzana Hussein has suggested.

Speaking at yesterday’s Pulse PCN event in London (26 November), Dr Farzana Hussain, clinical director for Newham Central 1 PCN, said leaders should actively highlight the work involved in embedding additional ARRS staff, for example, to help challenge media criticism, which she said always ‘comes back to GP access’.

The ARRS scheme provides PCNs with funding to employ 26,000 additional multi-disciplinary roles.

Her comments come amid continued press campaigns criticising GPs over patient access, which the BMA warned risks further fuelling abuse and violence against practices.

Despite this, NHS workforce data published yesterday revealed that GPs saw nearly two thirds of patients face-to-face last month.

Dr Hussain, also a GP partner in East London, said: ‘We have a really important role and we’ve been doing it for two and a half years. In my PCN we’ve recruited about six roles, including pharmacy technicians and link workers.

‘We don’t just want to show the benefit this has for the patient, but also how much work we’ve put into embedding ARRS roles.’

Dr Hussain added that PCN leads should flag what they have achieved, rather than on ‘very, very narrow’ metrics such as Investment and Impact Fund (IIF) targets for flu, which indicate 80% of over-65s should receive a flu jab.

‘We’re never going to get that in London, where we see about 50% uptake,’ she said.

‘The metrics are very, very narrow, and completely ignore that it takes a lot of effort to set up these organisations. I don’t think anybody else is singing these praises.’

Data collected from general practice and published earlier this month suggest that just over one-in-five 50- to 65-year-olds in England have had their flu vaccine.

In an interview with Management in Practice earlier this month, Dr Tom Rustom, a PCN clinical director in Surrey, said that the ARRS will ‘allow us to cope’ with GP demand.

Earlier this week, the BMA outlined that a Mail on Sunday article that claimed GPs are threatening to stop participating in the vaccination programme will ‘drive rising levels of abuse’.

Meanwhile, NHS England’s winter GP access plan, which was published last month, was prompted by hostile media campaigns.


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