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Covid in Scotland: Can in-person GP appointments ever fully return?

Community doctors in Scotland have told the BBC they cannot imagine returning to normal face-to-face service with current levels of demand.

Allowing more patients to see their GP in person is a top priority for the government's NHS Recovery Plan. But as the country tries to emerge from the pandemic, surgeries are seeing unprecedented pressure to catch up with patients.

The health secretary has confirmed that new guidance should allow practices to see more people in person. But greater use of telephone and video appointments, brought in when the pandemic hit, is going to continue.

Dr Begg has been a GP for 25 years. He says they won't go back to business as usual, the way they worked before.

"In person consultations are really important, to examine people, to give injections, to remove lesions, all of these. I think a flexible approach is what we need. It's what we were planning to do before the pandemic anyway; a flexible mix of phone call, video and in-person consulting where it is appropriate."

Dr Begg says the new ways of working are essential to deal with the huge number of requests they get.

"There is a demand, capacity gap and indeed there was before the pandemic. We are seeing at last more students come through medical school and more people finally coming to join general practice training, but this is going to take at least ten years to turn things around."

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Source: BBC News, 7 September 2021


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