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Sajid Javid: Patients in A&E as they can’t see GPs

Sajid Javid ‘looking at’ vaccine mandate for NHS staff

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Sajid Javid said figures showed a “significant portion of people are turning up for emergency care when they could have actually gone to their GP”. He added: “That is not the fault of those people. “They have stayed away from the NHS when they were asked to, they now want to be seen and that is right. “But part of the reason I think people are turning up in A&E perhaps when they don’t need it is because they’re not able to get through to their primary care services in the usual way.”

Mr Javid’s answer came after questions by MPs on the Commons Health and Social Care Committee about claims from the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) that virtual GP appointments have led to increased demand on emergency departments.

Earlier, Mr Javid said GPs had risen to the “challenge” of offering remote consultations and now “GPs are getting record numbers of appointments”.

Mr Javid said he did not believe in putting a figure on how many GP appointments should be carried out face-to-face.

It comes after figures showed that around 60 percent of appointments are currently face-to-face compared to about 80 percent before the pandemic.

GPs have been put under pressure to increase the number of face-to-face appointments, with NHS England saying last month that “GP appointment data will be published at practice level by spring next year” to “enhance accountability”.

The RCEM has not supplied specific data showing that virtual GP appointments have pushed up A&E attendances.

However, in a report published in August, it said the GP patient survey 2021 showed that, in the first half of 2021, eight percent of patients that could not or did not take a GP appointment attended an emergency department instead.

The RCEM said in its study: “Small deteriorations in the number of people accessing appropriate GP consultations have the potential to put great pressure on the urgent and emergency care system.”

It added that NHS 111 was also sending larger numbers of patients to A&E than ever before.

Mr Javid also admitted to MPs the Government would not hit its target of recruiting 6,000 more GPs by 2024.

Asked if the Government was on track, Mr Javid said: “No…we’re not on track. I am looking at what more we can do.”

The Government last night said a further 293 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of yesterday, although the total includes data from NHS England not provided in time for Monday’s figures.

As of 9am yesterday, there had been a further 33,865 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government said.

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