GP appointments ‘postcode lottery’ is discriminatory and must end – The Yorkshire Post says

THERE was a very glib answer when Health Minister Jo Churchill was questioned this week about the non-availability of face-to-face GP appointments – and the longer-term consequences for the diagnosis of cancer and other ailments.

There is continuing consternation over the availability of face-to-face GP appointments more than a year after the Covid pandemic struck.
There is continuing consternation over the availability of face-to-face GP appointments more than a year after the Covid pandemic struck.

“GPs are working really hard, and if patients are worried about any symptoms, they need to come forward,” said Ms Churchill who is one of the deputies to Matt Hancock, the Health and Social Care Secretary.

Where she did not elaborate, however, is what patients should do if they have the misfortune to be served by a medical practice where the resumption of appointments is not practical, or possible, for whatever reason.

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It is a postcode lottery that needs to be addressed more urgently by Ministers – Ms Churchill should know, as a cancer survivor herself, that early diagnosis of all conditions is crucial and local medical centres are the gateway to the NHS

Jo Churchill is a Health Minister.

Yet, while the NHS has never been held in higher esteem, the volume and tone of correspondence to this newspaper on GP services continues to be less complimentary.

Though most are very sympathetic towards GPs and the need to undertake remote appointments at the start of the Covid pandemic last year, they had assumed that this would only be a temporary measure.

And while the use of digital technology is practical for doctors – and a significant proportion of their patients – it does discriminate against those, particularly the elderly, vulnerable or poor, who either do not have reliable broadband or are not sufficiently tech-savvy.

For them, and also all those who need the reassurance of a consultation in order for their symptoms to be checked, a face-to-face appointment is essential and it is imperative that Ministers, and GPs themselves, act. Glibness, however, is not a remedy.

There is continuing consternation over the availability of face-to-face GP appointments more than a year after the Covid pandemic struck.

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