The Spectator

Letters: In defence of GPs

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Out of practice

Sir: GPs are not ‘hiding behind their telephones’ (Leading article, 4 September). In-person appointments are the core of general practice, and practices have been delivering millions of them throughout the pandemic. GPs share patients’ frustrations with the limitations of telephone consulting, which can often take longer than a face-to-face appointment, and with longer waits to be seen. However, as with other areas of the NHS, practices continue to follow national infection control guidance to keep patients and staff safe. You talk of pubs and nightclubs reopening — but how many nightclubs force very sick people, many of them elderly and living with a number of long-term illnesses, into a confined space at the same time? This is especially important as Covid continues to run rampant in the community.

Your article states GPs are seeing no more patients than before the pandemic. However in July, on top of the 25.5 million appointments booked, GP teams in England delivered 2.1 million Covid vaccinations. Meanwhile, between December 2019 and June this year, practices lost the equivalent of more than 1,000 full-time GP partners. The reality is fewer staff delivering more appointments to more people. Is it any wonder that practices feel under such pressure? It is unfair to lay the blame for this crisis at the door of dedicated individual GPs. To do so will have a lasting impact on staff morale, recruitment and retention, and ultimately, the doctor-patient relationship.

Dr Richard Vautrey

BMA GP committee chair, Leeds, W. Yorks

Army failures

Sir: What a fabulous diary from Andrew J. Bacevich (4 September). As a former British soldier for 24 years, I believe he is correct on every count about the lamentable state of the American political establishment and military, but the British army has nothing to boast about with Iraq or Afghanistan either. Our second-rate performance led to an embarrassment of senior officers promoted for failure.

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