GP practices reminded to ensure face-to-face appointments are available

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GP practices in England have been reminded that they must make sure patients can access face-to-face appointments if they need them, as the coronavirus crisis continues.

In a letter sent to all practices, the NHS said that, ahead of winter, it was important that the public was aware that in-person appointments were still available if appropriate.

It added that practices needed to communicate clearly with the public that such appointments were still on offer, in addition to consultations over the phone and via video.

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Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care for NHS England, urged people not to stay away if they are in need of care.

“The last few months has seen general practice playing a vital role in the fight against coronavirus, adapting quickly to significantly increase the availability of video and phone consultations and offer safe face-to-face care when needed,” she said.

“While many people, particularly those most vulnerable to Covid-19, want the convenience of a consultation over the phone or video, the NHS has been and will continue to offer face-to-face appointments.

“I would urge anyone who feels they need medical support to come forward so they can get the care, support and advice they need – the NHS is here for you.”

Patients will still need to call ahead or visit their practice website for an appointment before attending in person.

The NHS letter also reminded practices that they face enforcement action if they fail to offer clinically indicated in-person appointments to patients, as it is considered a breach of their medical contract.