Millions of patients have been getting expert support from family doctors from the comfort of their own homes while the NHS responds to COVID-19.
Remote consultations are one way in which GP practices have changed the way they work to ensure people can get expert care and advice in a safe way during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With GPs and their teams standing ready to assist, one of the country’s top GPs has urged people to continue to come forward for care when they need it, as part of the NHS’ ongoing Help Us Help You campaign.
Dr Raj Patel, deputy medical director of primary care at NHS England and a practicing GP, said: “Even during these unprecedented times, if people need help from a family doctor they are able to get it. Our GPs are quickly adapting to new technology – including phone and video consultations – to continue providing care in a different way.
“Not only do remote appointments allow patients to consult their GP from the comfort of their own home, it helps protect staff and patients by limiting exposure to infection. If you are unwell, the NHS is here for you and practice staff are working hard to ensure that everyone gets the care they need, whether that is face to face or virtually.”
Many GP appointments can be done remotely, and as well as being safer during the coronavirus pandemic this option is more convenient for many patients, but there are of course still times when it is necessary to see patients face-to-face.
Health leaders had already signalled their intention to move towards ‘digital first’ primary care in the NHS Long Term Plan – a blueprint for how the NHS should develop and evolve over the next decade to meet changing needs and work with new technology.
Progress towards this has accelerated during the pandemic, with 99% of GP practices now activating remote consultation platforms. NHS bosses are now looking at how this progress can be locked in after the pandemic subsides.