League tables for GP surgeries as part of £250m package to increase face-to-face appointments (Sky News)

Dhillon Hirani
November 12, 2021

Health secretary Sajid Javid has introduced a £250m package to increase the number of face-to-face appointments and same day care. He believes patients should have the choice of a face-to-face or virtual appointment. He had also planned to create a league table for family doctors, that would have effectively named and shamed GP surgeries that did not provide enough in-person consultations. After outrage from the GPs committee(GPC) and BMA, NHS England have abolished these plans for a league table. Nonetheless, the GPC and BMA were outraged by comments from the Commons implying GPs were not working hard enough.

Food for Thought

Pressures in general practice

Family doctors argue that the pressure on primary care is largely down to GP shortages and not how GPs choose to consult their patients.In 2015, the Government promised to expand the GP workforce by 5000 by 2020, but in reality, the workforce has increased by only 2500 with total GP working hours actually dropping as more GPs are now working part time. In an ageing population with increasingly complicated healthcare needs (plus COVID backlog) there are too few GPs available, and virtual consultations can increase the efficiency of primary care to bridge the gap as much as possible. What do you think can be done to ease pressure on GPs?

How helpful will a GP league table be?

Whilst details of the GP league table remained unclear, the plan was for patients to rate a practice’s performance via text after their consultation. These ratings as well as the proportion of face-to-face appointments conducted in each practice would have been published every month, with the lowest performing 20% of practices being actioned against by the NHS. Do you think this kind of league table would have improved performance or medical care? What are the advantages and disadvantages of ‘naming and shaming’ GP practices in this way? What effect will this have on the GP shortage?  

Practice Interview QUestions
  1. What are some advantages and disadvantages of virtual consultations?
  2. Do you believe patients should be able to demand a face-to-face appointment?
  3. How could we try and improve the number of GPs over the next 5 and 10 years?
  4. Do you agree with the introduction of a GP league table? 
Extra Reading (optional)