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Practices to be told to remove social distancing, reports claim



The Government will this week tell practices to end social distancing requirements so that more patients can be seen face to face, it has been reported.

The move will form part of a package designed to address GP access issues, which is due to be published imminently, claims the Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail last night reported that the health secretary will ‘tear up social distancing in surgeries to finally give thousands more patients face-to-face appointments with their doctor’.

It claimed that new guidance would include scrapping the two-metre social distancing rule in GP practices and relaxing cleaning requirements, which many practice nurses have been struggling to make time for between appointments.

It also said the ‘small minority’ of GPs who resist a ‘return’ to face-to-face appointments will be ‘held to account’ and that Sajid Javid is ‘thought to have considered potential financial sanctions’.

The package will also cut bureaucracy, with hospital staff writing more prescriptions and sick notes for patients, according to the Mail.

Pharmacies could also be asked to support GPs further, including by delivering more vaccinations to ease GP workload, it said.

The Mail claimed the package is a ‘major victory’ for the paper, following its campaign for GPs to see patients face to face as the ‘default’ option – which the BMA last month warned risks further fuelling abuse and violence against practices.

The details of the upcoming package have also been reported in the Telegraph, which has also come under fire for GP-bashing articles.

However, NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) have repeatedly declined to share details of the package with Nursing in Practice sister publication Pulse.

Earlier this week, the DHSC said it is ‘hugely grateful’ to practice staff for their ‘hard work and dedication’. But it added that practices ‘must take the preference of the patient on board and provide face-to-face appointments to those who want them’.

The DHSC has also said it will shortly set out details of investment to support general practice capacity and improve access during the second half of the year.

practice was last week forced to close for two days due to patient abuse.

A version of this story was orignally published by Nursing in Practice sister publication Pulse.