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General Practitioners: Coronavirus

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 83974, tabled on 1 September 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the safety of face-to-face GP surgery appointments as covid-19 lockdown restrictions are eased.

Answered on

22 September 2020

On 1 August the Government changed the National Health Service incident level from Level 4 (national) to Level 3 (regional) due to the COVID-19 demand on the NHS, after the Chief Medical Officers and the Government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre downgraded the United Kingdom’s overall COVID-19 alert level in June. As a result, on 31 August NHS England and NHS Improvement issued guidance stating that general practitioner (GP) practices must offer face-to-face appointments at surgeries and continue to use remote triage, video, online and telephone consultations where appropriate – whilst also considering those unable to access or engage with digital services.

The Government and the devolved administrations have published clear guidance on appropriate personal protective equipment for health and social care workers, including GPs. This has been written and reviewed by all four UK public health bodies and informed by NHS infection prevention and control experts. The guidance is consistent with World Health Organization guidance for protecting health and social care workers from COVID-19 and should allow the safe recommencement of regular face-to-face GP appointments.