Patients who refuse to wear a mask could be denied face-to-face GP appointment

Patients who refuse to wear a face covering when attending a GP practice could be told they will be seen via remote consultation instead, under official NHS guidance.

Mask advice (Photo: Sebastian Condrea/Getty Images)
Mask advice (Photo: Sebastian Condrea/Getty Images)

An updated standard operating procedure (SOP) for general practice published on Thursday makes clear that NHS England 'expects all patients who are able to do so' to follow government advice that patients should wear a mask or face covering on practice premises.

The revised advice says: 'For the small number of patients who may not follow this guidance we fully support practices in ensuring that they can take all reasonable steps to identify practical working solutions with the least risk to all involved.'

Practices are advised to 'undertake a risk assessment' when patients refuse to wear a mask or face covering, and can consider 'offering the patient a mask, if the patient is willing to wear one'.

Remote consultations

GPs can also consider further options including 'booking the patient into a quieter appointment slot, or in a separated area', or 'providing care via a remote appointment', the NHS England advice confirms.

The latest SOP reiterates official calls for GP practices to 'restore activity to usual levels where clinically appropriate' and to reach out to at-risk patients whose care may have been delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Practices 'should be open for the delivery of face-to-face care, whilst triaging patients remotely in advance wherever possible', the guidance says.

It calls for infection prevention and control guidance to be 'followed rigorously' for all face-to-face consultations, with staff and patients using masks or face coverings in line with government advice, care co-ordinated carefully to avoid 'the need for multiple visits' if possible.

Social distancing

Practices are also urged to 'use careful appointment planning to minimise waiting times and maintain
social distancing in waiting areas' - and to consider measures such as 'asking patients to wait in private vehicles, where possible, to reduce numbers in communal spaces'.

GPonline reported last month that face-to-face GP consultations had risen 70% compared with the start of lockdown - although the majority of consultations continue to be delivered via telephone.

GP leaders have called repeatedly for masks or face coverings to be mandatory for patients on practice premises, in line with rules for hospitals or public transport.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Practices handed one-month opt-out window as revamped network DES unveiled

Practices handed one-month opt-out window as revamped network DES unveiled

NHS England has unveiled a revamped DES package for 2020/21 confirming new targets,...

GPs delivered huge rise in face-to-face consultations in week before NHS England letter

GPs delivered huge rise in face-to-face consultations in week before NHS England letter

GPs delivered a huge increase in face-to-face appointments in the week before NHS...

RCGP facing legal action over stance on assisted dying

RCGP facing legal action over stance on assisted dying

The RCGP is facing legal action over its decision to remain opposed to assisted dying...

Medeconomics Live aims to help practices thrive under the new GP contract

Medeconomics Live aims to help practices thrive under the new GP contract

The one-day, virtual Medeconomics Live conference aims to provide practices with...

GPs face wave of abuse and complaints after NHS England face-to-face appointments claims

GPs face wave of abuse and complaints after NHS England face-to-face appointments claims

GP practices have faced a wave of abuse and complaints after a letter from NHS England...

Government denies plan to make GPs 'gatekeepers' of COVID-19 testing

Government denies plan to make GPs 'gatekeepers' of COVID-19 testing

The government has denied plans to make GPs 'gatekeepers' of the struggling COVID-19...