Changes to general practice during the Covid-19 crisis have been “like a cloud” lifting, a senior GP has said.
The crisis has changed demands on GPs, enabling them to focus on the “clinically relevant” and to experience an “absence” of red tape, according to Professor Mayur Lakhani, former president of the Royal College of GPs. There has also been “hitherto unknown” levels of support for practices, he says.
Writing for the British Medical Association, he says that practices rose to the occasion, massively reorganising themselves and taking on board video consultations. They have also provided support for vulnerable patients and provided essential services, such as cancer injections.
He contrasts this with the growing crisis in general practice, before the pandemic. This led to staff breaking down in tears and some doctors taking early retirement. There was a “climate of fear” of complaints and regulatory action. Efforts to reduce red tape only had small effects, he said.
He points to the electronic health record as a particular problem, using using “clunky” systems with multiple log-ons and passwords – together with constant “oppressive” reminders and pop-ups. Electronic records are essential, he says, but they need to be more usable. There was then a never-ending series of emails demanding reports from multiple organisations.
Professor Lakhani, who practices in Leicestershire, says that change is possible as services return to normal – but it must be led by GPs and practice managers. He says: “This crisis is a brilliant opportunity to press the reset button: to herald an empowered, enthralling, and a resurgent medically directed NHS.”