The long view in a COVID-19 landscape

7 May 2020

We began this week by writing to the Interim Chief Medical Officer (CMO) on the issue of those undergoing splenectomies not being included on the shielded list of most vulnerable patients in Scotland. This is not the case in England, where splenectomised patients have recently been added to the shielded list. 

I know that this is an issue that many patients have approached their GPs about and, without clear guidance and clarity over the evidence for taking a different approach in Scotland, it is difficult for us to manage our patients’ concerns. 

Shielding splenectomised and kidney dialysis patients

We were pleased to note that since writing to the CMO, the cabinet secretary has written to the Convenor of the Health and Sport Committee, Lewis Macdonald MSP, to inform him that splenectomised patients and those undergoing kidney dialysis have been added to the shielded list. 

We understand that updated guidance is due to be issued imminently and we have expressed how important this is to provide clarity on the issue for both patients and GPs. We will keep you updated on this issue.

Addressing health inequalities

This week, we have been hearing more in the press about the impact that COVID-19 is having on worsening existing health inequalities. Our health service has to be at its best where it is needed most and at the College we have, in our From the Frontline report, shone a light on the crucial role that general practice can play in tackling health inequalities. 

Our efforts in this respect are crucially important if we are to protect the most vulnerable in society from the worst effects of COVID-19. 

Carey has been working closely with colleagues from across the College to help develop resources, including a short vlog and set of FAQs, on how we, as general practitioners, can help to promote health equity during this time. This is a hugely important area and an issue that we will continue to shine a light on and help to tackle as we move through the current pandemic and beyond.

Changes to our service

The impact that COVID-19 has had on general practice and the way in which we operate our service has been staggering. A mere few months ago, the pace of change that we have witnessed over recent times would have been difficult to imagine. 

As we enter the next phase of fighting this virus, as a College, we are considering the longer-term impact of this pandemic for our profession. 

A view to the future 

We are about to embark on a UK-wide piece of work on the future of general practice in a post-COVID-19 landscape and will be feeding into this through our Scottish Council and Faculty Boards. 

We will of course keep you updated on this work as it progresses. I would encourage you, if you are able, to engage in any work taking place around this at a local level too, to ensure that any future planning of health services meets the needs of your local population. This is an unprecedented time for the health service and an opportunity for us ensure that the future of general practice best meets the needs of our patients.

There is an opportunity for you to join our Executive Officer for Quality Improvement, Dr Scott Jamieson in a ‘hot topics’ webinar on the barriers and opportunities of technology-enabled working in general practice. 

This webinar, hosted by Healthcare Improvement Scotland, in conjunction with RCGP Scotland and the Scottish Government, will also be an opportunity to hear from Dr Michelle Watts, GP and Medical Advisor in the Scottish Government’s Primary Care division on early learnings from the Government’s COVID-19 response.

Finally, a huge thanks to all those who helped feed into the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) and Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s rapid review of assessment of COVID-19 in primary care. The review provides some useful and practical advice for primary care clinicians on assessment of COVID-19 in primary care.

Post written by

Dr Alasdair Forbes, Deputy Chair 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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