Pressures in General Practice

We are disheartened to see rising levels of abuse being directed towards NHS staff across Kent and Medway.

We know there are frustrations with the on-going pandemic, and those with different views on the vaccine or pandemic restrictions have a right to voice them. But verbal abuse and physical intimidation against NHS staff is totally unacceptable.

General practice is open but there is very high demand which means it can be difficult for people to get through on the phones. Face to face appointments are available to those who most need them, but people will continue to be offered phone or video consultations. We are working to improve the position but please bear with us and treat staff with respect.

In terms of masks and social distancing in healthcare settings; this remains national policy across the NHS. The virus has not gone away and it is the right thing to do to continue taking precautions to limit the spread of the virus in healthcare settings. We must protect patients who may be more vulnerable and we must protect staff so they can keep delivering the essential  care that all of us may need at any time. People need to wear a mask and follow all the other guidance when visiting NHS sites, and do so without objection or abuse towards our staff.

We hope everyone will join us in taking every opportunity to thank our dedicated NHS teams for their on-going efforts in tackling the virus and addressing the delays to other services which it has caused. They do not deserve to be abused in any way.

To find out more about the actions being taken to reduce pressures in General Practice click here.

General Practice Appointments in Kent

General practice teams in Kent and Medway have carried out nearly 700,000 appointments in August, according to the latest national NHS data released yesterday (30 September).

Face-to-face consultations accounted for 373,424 of all appointments - equivalent to nearly 20% of the Kent and Medway population being seen face-to-face by a member of their GP team in this month alone. A further 302,939 telephone and video appointments also took place.

The role of the wider teams working alongside GPs was also clear in the statistics as 344,500 of all appointments were with other clinically trained staff, for example advanced nurse practitioners and pharmacists.

Dr Navin Kumta, Clinical Chair of Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group said “These figures demonstrate clearly how hard our general practice teams continue to work in the face of unprecedented demand. We know that getting through on the phone can be difficult at the moment; and we understand the frustrations this causes. We want to assure you that we are working hard to make sure that everyone is seen in the best way for them.  

“One concerning note is the number of patients who missed a booked appointment. Over 32,000 appointment slots were booked for patients who didn’t arrive for them. These slots are incredibly precious, and we would ask anyone who no longer needs their appointment to cancel in advance. In many practices you can cancel appointments by text or online, so there’s no need to phone.”

Dr Gaurav Gupta, Chair of Local Medical Committee (LMC) said: “General practice teams have been working throughout the pandemic. GPs and their teams have also been involved in vaccinating more than one million patients in Kent and Medway which has allowed us to emerge from lockdowns. 

“We are extremely concerned regarding the reports of high levels of abuse, and in some cases violence, experienced by practice teams. There is no place for such behaviour in our society and the NHS will enforce a zero-tolerance policy towards any abuse. I would like to thank GPs and practice teams for all their hard work in these difficult times.”

Dr Kumta, added: “We do understand that the current pressures raise frustration levels, but we would also make a plea for everyone to recognise that general practice teams are working hard both to see patients and make improvements to ease the pressures.”