On Thursday 24 June, Sir David Amess called for a debate on face-to-face consultations at GPs during the Coronavirus pandemic. Too many people are missing out on vital health and wellbeing appointments physically at doctors’ surgeries and are instead offered a telephone consultation.
Sir David Amess said:
I join other colleagues in saluting the work of children’s hospices, such as Little Havens in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Rebecca Harris). Will my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House find time for a debate on the full resumption of face-to-face consultations with general practitioners? They have done magnificent work in challenging times. It is good that more than half of face-to-face consultations have been resumed but, judging by my constituents’ emails and letters, they really miss seeing their GP in person.
Jacob Rees-Mogg replied:
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising the fact that it is Children’s Hospice Week. The work that people do in children’s hospices is truly remarkable. It must be such hard work for the carers to do.
To come to my hon. Friend’s question, NHS England and NHS Improvement have regularly issued guidance on the importance of continuing to offer face-to-face appointments. All practices should offer face-to-face consultations where appropriate—I reiterate, all practices. There will be a role for telephone calls and virtual consultations, but face to face, if needed, must happen. The figures are more encouraging. In March 2021, an estimated 28.6 million appointments were booked in general practice in England, of which 15.8 million were face to face, so 55.7% of all appointments.