Bradford adviser slams virtual GPs, marks online appointments ‘dangerous’

Councilor Zafar Iqbal (Bradford Moor) criticized “dangerous” online appointments with general practitioners and said virtual consultations – introduced to curb the spread of Covid – are “no longer necessary”.

As it emerged that some Bradford patients are now paying for private consultations in a desperate attempt to see a doctor, Cllr Iqbal called for “as much as possible” face-to-face appointments now that many Bradford residents are vaccinated.

He said: “It is sad that so many appointments are spent online because you can miss important health information that you cannot get in a virtual consultation and it can be dangerous.”

“I know of a patient who has been trying for more than three days to get through and has rang the bell at 8 a.m. and the line has a busy tone.”

“On top of that, patients who are lucky enough to drop by are not offered a face-to-face appointment but a telephone consultation, which poses other problems for patients, especially older patients who are unable to express and clearly explain the problem, which does not lead to a diagnosis and serious conditions could be overlooked.

He suggested that the reason accident and emergency departments are so full is the lack of GP appointments.

He said: “I would suggest that the increase in A + E wait times could be attributed to a lack of GP appointments.

“Patients will seek out other available services such as NHS 111 and A&E if they cannot see their GP, increasing the pressure on these services.

“Since the introduction of online GP appointments, there has been a significant increase in the number of people presenting to A + E with non-life threatening conditions. “
“If people are not able to get an appointment with a GP when they have a seemingly minor problem, it will just get worse and they will end up in the hospital.”

Recent data from NHS Digital showed that 57.2% of dates in July were face-to-face, but it was far less in the Bradford district.

Many parents are worried about the health of their children, the elderly who suffer from extreme health problems can no longer have a face-to-face consultation with their GP, added Cllr Iqbal.

When the Telegraph & Argus asked the NHS Bradford District and Craven CCG for comment, Dr James Thomas, clinical chairman, said: ‘Unfortunately the pandemic is not over yet, which means GP practices in the district continue to operate differently.

“Our health care services are under enormous pressure, but we are always here to help if needed. We need to maintain safe infection control and minimize unnecessary physical contact where possible.

“We ask patients to continue to be kind to our staff, to distance themselves socially where possible, and to wear a face mask in healthcare facilities.”

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