Beaconsfield MP Joy Morrissey said paying surgeries to see more patients face-to-face or at home would pressure off hospitals during the busy winter period in the NHS
GPs should get cash incentives for making face-to-face appointments this winter, an MP claimed today.
Conservative Joy Morrissey, who represents Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, said the money would push doctors to see more patients in person.
And she told the Commons that it may ease pressure on hospitals during the busier winter months for the NHS because it would have a 'trickle down' effect, stopping patients unnecessarily going to A&E.
Her comments come amid a growing row between medics and ministers over face-to-face consultations, which continue to be below pre-pandemic levels.
Around eight in 10 doctor appointments took place in GP surgeries before Covid hit the UK properly last March, but latest figures for August show only 58 per cent took place face-to-face.
Department for Health bosses revealed plans to increase patient access, including a controversial 'name and shame' strategy.
But it was met with huge backlash from family doctors, who have now threatened industrial action over the proposal.
The number of GP appointments taking place face-to-face tumbled at the start of the pandemic when surgeries were told to see patients remotely where possible. But despite the country largely returning to normal, in-person visits are yet to climb back to pre-pandemic levels. The above graph shows the number of face-to-face GP appointments (red line) by month since the end of 2019
Mrs Morrissey said: 'If we want to reduce the overall burden on the NHS this winter, finding a safe and secure way for more residents to see their GP will reduce the overall pressure long-term on the NHS.'
'It perhaps is something that each time a GP sees someone in-person they could get an extra payment or an additional payment for visiting someone in their home.
'That way that mitigates the additional cost of PPE and also the additional risk posed to the GP themselves by having to see in-person during Covid or during high levels of winter flu.'
Top doctors also claimed survival rates could stall over the next decade due to the impact of coronavirus on the NHS.
During the pandemic thousands of cancer patients had vital treatment cancelled or postponed as staff and hospital beds were diverted towards Covid.
Professor Mike Griffin, a prominent cancer surgeon, admitted he is concerned care 'will take a hit again in the coming weeks over winter' due to the pressures already facing the NHS.
Increasing numbers of people attending A&E, a lack of hospital beds and nursing and social care shortages could cause problems, he said.
Professor Pat Price, a consultant clinical oncologist, told politicians on the Health and Social Care Committee cancer