General practice recovery post-COVID

12 June 2020 

I've put a pause on sharing silver linings from COVID-19 for this week as there has been a lot that we have been involved with recently that feels important to update you on.

Developing a post-COVID vision for general practice

Unsurprisingly, as a College we have been very focused in recent weeks on recovery planning both for general practice and for the NHS more broadly.

At a UK level, we are developing a post-COVID-19 vision for general practice, based on the feedback that we received through engagement with College members, committees and external stakeholders.

This piece of work is still very much in evolution, and I was pleased to be able to chair a discussion on it at this week's virtual meeting of RCGP Scottish Council and Faculty Boards.

As ever, contributions from around the virtual room were incredibly insightful and appropriately challenging, and will undoubtedly help to strengthen this paper which will now be considered at RCGP Council, before being refined and published.

I look forward to being able to share this with you thereafter.

Scotland's post-COVID recovery

The challenge of how we safely and sustainably recover our NHS is also the big issue of the day at a national level here in Scotland.

Throughout the pandemic, we have worked closely with Scottish Government to influence policy, guidance creation, public messaging and most recently, recovery planning.

We have met with the Director General, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, the National Clinical Director, and the Chief Social Policy Advisor, as well as attending and feeding into regular meetings with the Chief Medical Officer, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, and the primary care division of Scottish Government.

In addition to this we have also worked closely with the BMA and the Scottish Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties to ensure a pan-NHS approach to NHS recovery.

General practice, as a 24/7 frontline service, managing the majority of consultations in the NHS, needs to be at the forefront of recovery planning at this crucial time.  

It is clear that this is a pivotal moment for our health service and there are real opportunities to ensure that general practice can emerge from this period strengthened.

I have consistently vocalised, during discussions, that realistic recovery needs to be underpinned by realistic and proactive public messaging about what the 'new normal' means. This includes:

  • how services can be used responsibly and sustainably
  • why the wellbeing of GPs and their teams must continue to be prioritised during the recovery period and beyond
  • how new models of care must seek to mitigate against worsening health inequalities
  • why the core values of general practice should continue to be protected and strengthened as services develop.

Scottish Government expert advisory group

Finally, you may have heard an announcement from the Scottish Government earlier this week about the establishment of a new expert group to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups in Scotland and advise on policy development.

This is a very welcome announcement and feels like an important first step towards having a fuller understanding of the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on Scotland's BAME communities, and the reasons why.

The findings from Public Health England’s recently published report on this issue were stark and incredibly concerning.

At present, we don't yet have the level of data collection in Scotland to allow a similar report to be produced, and I am pleased to see that there is now a concerted effort to address this, to inform meaningful improvements and change.

The College is also committed to addressing inequalities of all kinds. We are a learning organisation, and we want to understand how better to support our diverse membership.

I look forward to hearing from, and working alongside, our newly established BAME Committee to ensure that we do all we can to support and protect both our members and patients.

I really value hearing from members, so please do not hesitate to contact me.

Post written by

Dr Carey Lunan, Chair RCGP Scotland

Dr Carey Lunan is a GP partner in one of Edinburgh's Deep End practices and is the current Chair of RCGP Scotland.

Prior to this, she held the role of Executive Officer for Patients and Public and Interface working. She also sits on the RCGP Ethics Committee.

Her priorities during her time as Chair include a focus on practitioner wellbeing, improving the interface between primary and secondary care, and growing and retaining the GP workforce.

She has made tackling health inequalities a high priority and has consistently called for the need to engage the public in a national conversation about the realistic role of the modern NHS and the importance of collective social responsibility.

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