It is often the case that particular healthcare policies and practices change overnight from being discouraged or even forbidden to becoming more or less compulsory. An example of this is the change in how patients can access doctors during the coronavirus pandemic.
At the end of July, Matt Hancock gave a speech on the future of healthcare in which he declared “… from now on, all consultations should be teleconsultations unless there is a compelling reason not to.” The following day, Sir Simon Stevens’ letter on the third phase of the NHS response to COVID-19 gave more nuanced messages and acknowledged the place of face to face consultations alongside digital and telephone consultations in some circumstances. Meanwhile, a recent RCGP survey reported that at the present time 61% of appointments are full telephone consultations and 16% are telephone triages.
Many changes in how patients can access doctors have the potential to offer great benefits to patients and to ease pressures on health systems; however, what is right in some circumstances is not right for all as Ros Levenson, Chair of Academy Patient and Lay Committee, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, discusses in her blog.