UPDATED STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE (SOP)
UPDATED STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE (SOP) TO SUPPORT RESTORATION OF GENERAL PRACTICE SERVICES
NHSEI have written to practices to inform them of the updated standard operating procedure. This letter advises practices to make two important changes.
Firstly, to have face-to-face appointments available. Surgeries have been doing this throughout the pandemic, however, the letter states that patients should have input into what mode of consultation they receive. Practices should thus continue to triage patients and offer face-to-face appointments if clinically indicated. If a patient wants a face-to-face appointment but it is not clinically indicated there is no contractual requirement for this to be offered.
Secondly, the letter advises that receptions should be open to patients. Again there is no contractual requirement for you to do this, as long as you have a system by which you can assess and prioritise patients. If you feel that the risk of opening your reception area is too great, then you do not have to. You should risk assess whether your staff and patients have adequate immunity through immunisation before allowing free access to your reception areas.
The GP contract is clear, that services should be provided "in the manner determined by the contractor’s practice in discussion with the patient", thus you are able to determine what is the best way to provide services in discussion with your patient group.
BMA have written a robust response to the NHSEI letter- https://www.bma.org.uk/bma-media-centre/gps-let-down-by-tone-deaf-nhs-england-letter-on-face-to-face-appointments-says-bma