Judy Viitanen has read news reports this morning that GPs are being forced to abandon routine work and cancel appointments in order to cope with the huge volume of swine flu calls and consultations. PRimage understand that pregnant women, babies under one and people with underlying health conditions will continue to be treated by their family doctor rather than the government’s new swine flu helpline. Concerns that medically at-risk groups, such as mothers-to-be and cancer patients, need to be assessed by a health professional rather than a call centre worker have prompted ministers to agree that the new national pandemic flu service will not seek to cover vulnerable patients.Ministers have so far refused to allow local suspension of the QOF, and insist that the national pandemic flu service will relieve GPs of the extra swine flu work, despite not being manned by trained clinicians. But the news reports claim many GPs already have to cancel appointments and delay reviews for patients with long term conditions.
It appears also that GP leaders are battling to prevent GPs from facing financial penalties if they achieve poor scores on the patient survey as a result of patients not being able to access their GP during the outbreak. The GPC is also calling for PCTs to allow non-urgent work to be abandoned, and for initiatives like world class commissioning to be shelved while the crisis continues.