League tables for GP surgeries - £250m package to increase face-to-face appointmentsPractices which fail to provide an "appropriate" level of face-to-face appointments will not be eligible for
new NHS funding worth £250m.
A new package of support for GP surgeries in England will help them "to see more people face-to-face
and more promptly", the health secretary has told Sky News, as he defended plans to publish league
tables for practices amid claims ministers want to "name and shame" them.
Under the plan to improve access, practices which fail to provide an "appropriate" level of appointments
in person will not be eligible for new NHS England funding worth £250m, with league tables ranking how
much access surgeries are providing to patients.
Patients will also be able to rate their practice's performance via text message
The NHS said the "winter access fund" will allow GPs to improve the availability of appointments and
increase the number of face-to-face appointments and same-day care.
Other healthcare workers will be given new powers to provide patients with medical documents like
fit-to-work notes or DVLA checks in a bid to free up GPs.
The NHS said GP practices must "respect preferences for face-to-face care unless there are good clinical
reasons to the contrary".
People will be able to compare GP practices thanks to appointment data which will be published at
practice level by spring to "enhance transparency and accountability", the health service said.
It is not clear how "appropriate levels" of face-to-face care will be defined, but those who do not meet
the standard will be offered support to improve.
"Walk-in consultations" could be one of the ways in which practices choose to address the problem.
GP telephone systems will be upgraded to reduce long waits over the phone, social distancing in
practices could be changed or reduced, and patients will be able to see nurses, pharmacists and
paramedics at GP practices.
Mr Javid said providing "more data, more transparency" would help raise standards.
"It is important that patients have this information because I want to see a levelling up of healthcare
throughout the country," he said.
"We do need to understand what the differences are in healthcare provision across the country."
Mr Javid added that GPs had done "phenomenal work" during the COVID-19 pandemic and added:
"We want to support them to do what they do best, which is to see patients and to see more patients
properly and in a way that the patient chooses."
The health secretary said the measures will "help GPs to see more people face-to-face and more promptly".
He stressed patients should have a choice between in-person appointments and remote consultations,
saying: "I believe in choice, I think that's what patients want to see.
"The vast majority of GPs I talk to say that if you can help us to increase capacity, if you can provide us
the support, that's also what we want to do.
"I think patients should have a choice, and if some choose that they prefer remote or online versus
face-to-face then that absolutely can be right for them."