Reaction to NHSE guidance for primary care

Publication date: 06 March 2020

Dr Steve Mowle, Honorary Treasurer of the Royal College of GPs, said: "The advice from NHS England for GPs is welcome, particularly the confirmation that GP practices in England will start to receive appropriate and necessary protective equipment early next week.

"It's essential that anybody working in general practice is doing so safely and are as protected from Covid-19 as possible as we work through this challenging time for the NHS and society in general.

"General practice is a profession working under intense resource and workforce pressures. Currently, the impact of Covid-19 doesn’t seem to be specifically contributing to this significantly and anecdotally it seems as though the majority of patients are heeding official advice not to go to the GP practice if they think they might have Covid-19, which we’re very thankful for. But as the situation escalates, we’re going to need to have serious conversations about which tasks to prioritise over others and whether there are any we can stop doing temporarily to create capacity to deal with Covid-19.

"As a profession, we will also need to think about how best to consult with our patients during this period. Offering more remote consultations, either online or by phone or video, seems like a sensible measure, particularly for appointments that have been booked online. However, these types of consultations have limits, and won’t be suitable for all patients, so there will need to be some degree of flexibility.

"If a patient does present in a GP surgery, our teams have been well-briefed to isolate them where possible and then refer to current PHE guidelines.

"The best advice for patients is not to be alarmed. It is still more likely that anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms will have the flu or a bad cold, not Covid-19 – and for those who do catch the virus, for the vast majority of people, it will be a mild illness that they will get better from.

"Everyone should practise basic good hygiene measures in order to keep well and help stop the spread of Covid-19, as well as other viruses: wash your hands with soap and water, or alcohol-based sanitizer, if a sink isn't available; cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands; and throw tissues in the bin immediately after use."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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