GPS and practice staff are calling for the resignation of NHS England’s medical director for primary care amid the furore created by its latest guidance.
In a letter to practices last week, NHS England said general practice patients must now be offered face-to-face appointments if that is their preference.
It later confirmed to Nursing in Practice sister title Pulse that GP practices must give face-to-face appointments to patients who request them unless they are deemed to be an infection risk.
But GPs responding to NHS England’s new guidance branded it ‘tone deaf’ and ‘badly judged’.
Many practice nurses have continued to carry out the majority of work face-to-face throughout the pandemic.
Mid Mersey LMC medical secretary Dr Ivan Camphor told Pulse that local GPs have ‘approached’ him asking him to call for those who signed the letter to resign.
He said: ‘There’s a very strong feeling amongst all GPs of being let down by the letter from [primary care director] Dr Nikki Kanani, and Ed Waller.
‘In certain quarters there is a very strong voice for a call for them to resign with immediate effect because general practice has never been shut. To say that general practice now needs to open is really a slap in the face.’
Dr Camphor, who serves as a regional rep on the BMA’s GP Committee, said there will be ‘a lot of debate’ about the letter at a GPC meeting scheduled for Thursday this week.
It comes as grassroots organisation GP Survival – which represents 8,600 GP members in the UK – has today launched a petition calling for Dr Kanini to ‘resign or be removed from her post’.
The petition has so far gained 255 signatures from frustrated GPs.
In an open letter, GP Survival said its committee has ‘no confidence’ in primary care director Dr Kanani’s leadership following the ‘inflammatory and insulting’ guidance sent to practices.
The letter said: ‘Deliberately or not, it implies support to the false accusations in the press that GPs have not been providing face-to-face care throughout the pandemic.
‘It is insulting in the extreme to [the] memory [of practice staff lost to Covid] to be told by a fellow GP that we must see patients face-to-face when there is ample evidence that we, as a profession, never stopped.’
It added: ‘We urge Dr Kanani to take the honourable course of action.’
Meanwhile, some GPs today reported a ‘whole different level’ of abuse from patients following NHS England’s letter and its coverage in the media.
Dr Adam Janjua, NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG chair, took to Twitter to express frustration that ‘thanks to the SOP and the media coverage it’s apparently ok to abuse us lazy GPs’.
He told Pulse: ‘Patients are being more aggressive with reception staff, especially with issues surrounding Covid symptoms.
‘We used to be a profession with high public trust – rightly so. But since the gradual assassination via the mainstream media started at the start of the pandemic, I feel that the patients and public trust us less because of the stuff they’ve read or heard generally in the media.’
He added: ‘I’m used to a bit of pushback from patients, but this is a whole different level and putting trainees off the profession.’
NHS England was approached for comment.
LMCs and the BMA have both advised practices that the letter had ‘no contractual force’ and should be regarded as guidance only by practices.
Additional reporting by Eleanor Philpotts