Rising to the challenge of COVID-19

20 March 2020

General Practitioners, GP trainees and our teams are doing a truly remarkable job in rising to the challenge of COVID-19, selflessly serving their patients and communities in the most difficult of circumstances. 

This is an unprecedented crisis and the biggest challenge facing the NHS in its history. The COVID-19 language is dramatic, and the practical reality is too.

Your professionalism is truly inspiring. In the early stages of the crisis, the focus has been on hospitals and NHS 111. We all knew that it would shift swiftly to general practice and that’s what’s happening. The demands will continue to build as we approach the peak of the pandemic and our resources, people and equipment will be put under increasing strain.

So, what is the College doing to help you? We are working to support you in a number of areas.

Clinical advice

The most common ask is for more information specifically for general practice. The RCGP COVID-19 web resources are developing rapidly. We are asking our members what is important to them and you will find answers to their FAQs, provided by our amazing clinical advisory group;

You will see College announcements and guidance relating to the College exam and meetings. You will also find links to national COVID-19 guidance from governmental and NHS bodies from all four UK nations. Where necessary we have interpreted or expanded on this advice.

You will see an overview and some examples of our extensive media work, providing a calming GP voice for the public and getting messages over about what we need from government and the NHS in order to manage the crisis.

Continuing professional development

You will see online CPD resources produced by our talented RCGP Learning team, including background information about COVID-19, practical toolkits, and advice about clinical management and practice management, including how to look after your teams.

We are continuing to develop these resources at pace and we expect to launch a new member discussion forum led by our President shortly, as well as practical guidance about ethical issues, vlogs from College officers and online Q&A sessions for our Faculties.

We are focusing most of our College efforts on building and improving these resources for GPs and their teams. We appreciate that we have much more to do on the content and presentation of the website but we are getting there. I would like to thank the whole of the College team, staff, directors and officers, none of whom seem to be getting much sleep or family time.

In addition to these practical resources, we are working closely with our governments across the four nations, advising, putting forward practical solutions and actively contributing to the development of guidance.

We are also challenging constructively where necessary – highlighting the implications for the workforce of current guidance on self-isolation, testing of staff who are well and have self-isolated, speeding up the production of central guidance, expanding the workforce by supporting recent retirees to come back and trainees to increase their service commitment. These are some of the issues I put to Jo Churchill, Minister for Primary Care, when I spoke to her earlier today.

Reducing administration

At this time of crisis, we accept the need to think and act differently.

In partnership with the BMA, we are lobbying hard to reduce administrative workload. 

My sincere thanks to you all for the truly remarkable commitment you are showing to your patients and practices.

Post written by

Professor Martin Marshall

Professor Martin Marshall is a GP in Newham in east London and Professor of Healthcare Improvement at UCL, Programme Director for Primary Care at UCL Partners. He leads Improvement Science London, an initiative to promote and embed the science of improvement across the health service and academic sectors.

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