GPs should prioritise the Covid booster campaign Sajid Javid said last week, The Guardian reports – appearing to have dropped his insistence on face-to-face appointments.
On the day that Boris Johnson announced that all adults will be able to book their booster jabs by the end of January 2022, the health secretary appeared to switch his focus from face-to-face access to the booster campaign.
Asked on Radio 4’s Today programme if he was prepared to make choices to free up GPs’ time, Javid said: “Yes. This our new national mission. In terms of the public health of this country, there is nothing more important than this booster programme.
“We are working at pace with GP representatives about how we can free up more of their time … GPs are working very constructively with us on that.”
NHS England has already dropped its commitment to releasing patient’s notes this month, pushing the change to April.
But it may be too little too late for the profession. Last week GPs voted in favour of industrial action after intense pressure from NHS England over face-to-face access, amongst other points.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: ““So the political pressure on face-to-face consultations is off again, albeit because of a sudden change in course in the predictable evolution of the virus; I hope Sajid Javid takes note to listen to doctors more carefully in the future.
Whilst switching to focus on the booster campaign, and putting steps in place to free up GPs time to do this, this will necessarily mean that the existing GP backlog will grow even more.
As an organisation, to help meet this challenge, we are working flat out to launch a new remote digital locum service for the new year to help support practices as much as possible.
With more uptime being asked of us all, it is at times like this that we must remind ourselves to also prioritise our own downtime with our families and friends, so that we get the rest we need to support a very difficult winter ahead for the NHS.”