A North Yorkshire health boss has denied reports that GP surgeries are closed and not offering face-to-face appointments saying the claims are a “myth”.
Amanda Bloor, accountable officer at NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, told a meeting of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum this morning that more than 235,000 face-to-face appointments had been held across the county and York in March.
In North Yorkshire alone in March, the most recent month for which there is complete data, 134,766 face-to-face consultations had taken place.
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Mrs Bloor said that there had been national media coverage suggesting that GP practices were closed and she wanted to “dispel this myth”.
“I am aware that over the last few weeks there has been an increasing perception that GP practices across North Yorkshire and York are closed and not delivering face-to-face appointments for patients and there has been national media coverage in relation to this too.
“I just want to stress that our GP practices across North Yorkshire and York are open, they are seeing patients face-to-face and they have been open throughout the course of the pandemic.
“It is fair to say that services have been provided differently and that has been about protecting patients and staff, particularly through the time of the pandemic, to make sure that we kept people safe.
“But what I don’t want and what the wider NHS does not want is any misconceptions getting in the way of people coming forward, accessing services at their GP practice when they have got health care needs in the full confidence that they will get clinically appropriate personalised care.”
Mrs Bloor said that in March there were 387,000 appointments held in North Yorkshire and York, the most of any month in the last two years with more than 60% of the appointments taking place face-to-face.
The total number of appointments offered for March was 55,000 higher than the same month last year as demand for routine appointments has surpassed pre-covid levels.
Mrs Bloor added that people could expect longer waiting times for in person appointments due to the need to clean waiting rooms at GP surgeries regularly and that, for some people, telephone or online appointments would be the most appropriate way to have a consultation.
“So just to really reinforce that primary care is open for business and seeing patients, and if anyone is concerned, they can access services in their practice.
“The blended approach to a mixture of face-to-face, and telephone appointments does support our clinical colleagues to make sure that they can reach out to as many people as possible in line with the guidance and to protect the safety of patients and staff.”