'Unreasonable, undeliverable!' Argument erupts as Sajid Javid defends GP appointment chaos


The Health Secretary desperately defended his track record as NHS leaders and GP’s pile on pressure after he sided with the public and newspaper campaigns demanding more face-to-face appointments – despite the NHS saying it struggled to meet demand.

It comes as just six in 10 GP appointments in August in England took place face-to-face, despite Covid curbs being lifted, as the public have demanded more in-person consultations.

Host Justin Webb said: “What you said that upset GPs is not a very partnering thing is it! You said that for those that want to have face-to-face appointments it should be made available.

“You did not understand, you did not talk about the difficulties that GPs face!”

Mr Javid insisted in comments made to the Commons he referred to the difficulties faced by GPs in order to deliver face-to-face appointments as he tried to defend his siding with the public.

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But Mr Webb hit back: “But you didn’t in the The Commons and you haven’t publicly! You have come out in favour of the papers’ campaigns but not in favour of the GPs!”

Mr Javid replied: “The GPs have done a phenomenal job – they are under pressure, I have met with GPs in my own constituency and talked to them diretlyh about those pressures.

“What they say is… we would like to be able to offer more face-to-face, we understand why many of our patients are asking for it, but we do need help to do that.”

The Radio 4 host suggested to Mr Javid it is “not reasonable” to say that GPs should go back to face-to-face appointments prior to the pandemic. 

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He said: “There are patients who may prefer to have remote consultation, that may be on the phone, on video, if that is the preference of the patient then that is of course perfectly understandable.

“There is an absolute clear role for remote consultation and over the pandemic more people have learnt about remote consultation and some of them will absolutely prefer it.”

The Health Secretary added: “But there are others that would prefer face-to-face but to get where we want there has to be a partnership with GPs working together to help alleviate some of the pressures they face so they can do that.”

Mr Webb hit back, saying: “Royal College of GPs, Martin Marshall used the word ‘undeliverable’ at the moment for face-to-face appointments at pre-pandemic levels, do you accept that?”

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“So for the time being it is not reasonable for everyone to say to their GP ‘Sajid Javid is telling me I have the right to see you face-to-face’. That is not what you are telling people at the moment! Is that right?”

Mr Javid went on to insist the Government are holding “very constructive” discussions with health leaders to come to a solution to the chaos before stressing it is the “partnership that counts” between No.10 and GPs.

The proportion of Britons seen face-to-face in August was 57.7 percent, only slightly up from 56.9 percent in July and well below the pre-pandemic average levels of around 80 percent.

The Health Secretary’s demands come despite the National Care Association warning this week that staff shortages from unvaccinated staff being barred from work will become so severe that services cannot be delivered safely. Mr Javid said he will not pause the requirement of care staff to be jabbed in order to ease the pressure on staffing levels.



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