'Remote first' GP appointments must be handled with care

As health secretary welcomes shift to phone consultations, experts warn that the change may not suit everyone

While the number of GP appointments overall dropped during lockdown, there was a clear shift towards remote consultations driven by the necessity of the Covid-19 outbreak. NHS figures show that 48% of 17m GP appointments in May were carried out over the telephone, compared with 14% of 25m in February.

This shift away from face-to-face meetings, according to the health secretary, Matt Hancock, on Thursday, was a development he was keen to maintain. “From now on, all consultations should be tele-consultations unless there’s a compelling clinical reason not to,” he said, adding that it was something that had been particularly welcomed in rural areas.

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