Referrals, palliative care and staying connected with fellow GPs

1 May 2020

It’s quite hard to believe we are now entering our sixth week of lockdown.

I hope you, your teams and loved ones are keeping well during these times and that you will be able to get some down time in around your clinical work.

We all know that this is a marathon, not a sprint and as difficult as it may be, protecting our own wellbeing is crucial if we are to ensure that we can keep going through the weeks and months ahead.

A drop in emergency referrals

There have been a few developments that I wanted to highlight to you this week.

As Carey mentioned in last week’s blog, she recently filmed an information campaign video for the Scottish Government to help promote the message that the NHS remains open for those that require health care.

Given the significant drop in cancer referrals during this pandemic, I am sure that we all share the concern that many people are unfortunately suffering in silence with symptoms, which we absolutely want to see in general practice.

You may have already seen or heard the advert on your TV and radio – it will continue to be broadcast over the next couple of weeks and is available to watch and share.

Guidance for end-of-life care during COVID-19

We have also fed into the development of a new toolkit for palliative care which aims to provide health board planners with options regarding supportive and palliative care medicines that can be adapted and utilised locally in their response to COVID-19.

The toolkit has been published this week by Scottish Government. This is a really important area and I’m proud that we have been able to play a role in shaping this work.

You may have seen that this week the Department of Health and Social Care has issued guidance allowing the repurposing of controlled drugs for patients in care homes and hospices near or at the end of their life during Covid-19.

This is a significant step forward that will make a real difference to patients at the end of their life and something which the College has been calling on the Home Secretary to deliver.

While I am pleased that this guidance has been amended in England, there is still work to do in Scotland.

We have this week lent our support to the relaxation of the rules on this in Scotland, and will continue to do so in the hope that progress can be made.

Staying connected

We have also been shining a light this week on the many different ways of working that GPs have undertaken during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Through using #RCGPTogether on social media, GPs have been sharing photos of where they are working on a given day to help highlight the ways in which we have adapted our working styles during the pandemic. This is really a bit of fun and a way for us to feel a bit more connected at a time when many of us are working remotely or in different clinical settings.

Please do consider getting involved on Twitter.

On the frontline

Our Executive Officer for Professional Development, Dr Sigi Joseph has also been helping to spread the message about the work of general practice during this time by recording audio diaries for BBC Radio 5 Live’s ‘The Coronavirus Diaries’ podcast series.

The series has received excellent reviews in the national press and provides a fascinating, and often hard hitting, insight into life on the frontline across health and social care during this pandemic. Many thanks to Sigi for her work on this!

Thank you all for your hard work, coping amazingly well with the rapidly evolving situation, adapting to all the enforced changes, and for the great camaraderie shown in practices.

I feel this pandemic has shown the value of general practice as the bedrock of the NHS.


Post written by

Dr Alasdair Forbes, Deputy Chair (Policy) of RCGP Scotland

Dr Forbes has been a GP partner at his Aberdeen GP practice since 1994, serving the suburban population of north Aberdeen and the rural population of Aberdeenshire.

Alongside working as a GP, and providing a minor surgery service for his patients, Dr Forbes is a lead trainer in his practice and has tutored undergraduate medical school students.

He is passionate about growing and retaining the GP workforce and chairs the College’s Recruitment and Retention Advisory Group. Dr Forbes has been involved with RCGP Scotland for many years, holding a number of positions at local and national board levels.

Dr Forbes also chairs his local Faculty Board in North East Scotland.


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