Public satisfaction with family doctors in Scotland has plummeted to a record low since the first lockdown when they began to refuse to see patients in person, a study has found. The Telegraph has the story.
The Scottish Government-backed survey of 130,000 patients revealed that 67% said they had a positive experience of care provided by their GP practice, a fall of 12 percentage points in two years and 23 points compared with a decade ago.
Meanwhile, a quarter of people said they had not found it easy to contact their practice, a rise of 10 percentage points compared with before the pandemic.
Guidance was issued to GP practices not to see patients unless essential for clinical reasons at the start of lockdown in 2020, in an effort to prevent COVID-19 spreading.
However, while all legal restrictions have now been lifted, many doctors have not returned to normal and the SNP’s health secretary recently admitted that a “hybrid” model of appointments has become permanent.
The latest survey, which began in November 2021 and asked about experiences over the previous year, found that 57% of patients had a telephone consultation, whereas the figure was 11% before coronavirus.
Just 37% had a face-to-face consultation compared with 87% two years previously.
The shift away from in-person appointments has led to concerns that patients may be reluctant to seek help as they fear being interrogated about health conditions by receptionists, that the system is inaccessible to those with poor English and that signs a GP may have picked up on in-person will be missed.
Doctors, like many workers especially in the public sector, seem determined to keep the new, more convenient patterns of working they discovered during lockdown. But in many cases these patterns are just not as good for getting the job done and doing it well. When it comes to medicine, that can be the difference between life and death.
Worth reading in full.