The current pandemic is unique and without precedent in the memories of current doctors practising both in the public and private sectors. This has, as a result, driven innovative new changes that could never have been foreseen or planned.
In the surgeries of General Practitioner doctors up and down the UK the development of the new practice of remote consultations by video link has been called “Zoom medicine” by the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock. Together with telephone consultations these have become the overwhelming ‘new normal’ way of ‘seeing your GP’ after you’ve made an appointment. Because unless there is a compelling clinical reason to ‘see your GP’ in person, by default, all future appointments with your GP will be remotely by video or phone.
In the 4-week period before 12th April, nearly three-quarters of routine consultations with GPs took place remotely by video or phone with the other quarter being the traditional face to face way. During the same 4-week period last year, only a quarter of consultations were remote with three quarters face to face.
Interestingly, whilst these innovative changes have been forced upon GPs by the pandemic, they are being hailed as being a more efficient and better way to provide GP services to their patients. Before the pandemic only 3% of GPs offered video consultations compared with 98% now.
What a transformation!
Why does it need a crisis to discover more efficient ways to deliver our nation’s health services?