Latest COVID-19 guidance

The COVID-19 outbreak is arguably one of the greatest public health challenges of our time – not least for general practice, where over one million patients are already treated every day.

The College is closely monitoring the situation and developing practical resources and support for GPs and their teams. We hope you will find this page and its resources useful in your day to day work and for keeping yourselves, your families and your patients as safe as you possibly can over the coming difficult weeks and months.

Latest advice

Every attempt will be taken to keep this advice current but please continue to refer to the latest advice in your area.

England

Latest advice for GPs in England

For members in England, NHS England has set up a PPE supply and distribution helpline. 

Are you experiencing PPE shortages?

Tel: 0800 915 9964 or 0191 283 6543. 

Email: supplydisruptionservice@nhsbsa.nhs.uk

This service is operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Government statistics

Public Health England

NHS England

Department of Health and Social Care

Northern Ireland

Latest guidance for GPs in Northern Ireland

Scotland

Latest guidance for GPs in Scotland

Wales

Latest guidance for GPs in Wales

COVID-19 vaccinations guidance for General Practice

The latest updates on the COVID-19 vaccine and managing flu vaccinations during the pandemic.

Visit our vaccination guidance page on our COVID-19 Resource hub.

General Practice is open

As we head into the second lockdown in England, the Royal College of GPs have launched a new resource for GP practices urging patients to continue accessing primary care services when they need to. General practice is open – and has been throughout the pandemic – but because of Coronavirus the way patients are seen in primary care has changed.

Find out more about GP is open.

General practice post-Covid

Our report General Practice in the post-Covid world (295 KB PDF) has highlighted emerging evidence that suggests that patients who have recovered from the virus have experienced a range of health problems, including chronic fatigue, ongoing respiratory difficulties and mental health problems. These patients will now be managed in primary care which needs to be supported to effectively ensure high-quality patient care.

Find out more and sign up to the campaign online.

COVID-19 Appraisal and Revalidation support

Clinical eligibility of children and young people for COVID-19 vaccines in phase 1 of the vaccination programme - 2 February 2020

There is understandably considerable interest among General Practitioners and their patients in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. This is particularly so in those patients who have been shielding for much of the last year due to their extreme clinical vulnerabilities.

We are now in the first phase of the programme during which young people (aged 16 years and over) with specific clinical vulnerabilities will be offered vaccination.

The only other group identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the Green Book that should be considered for the vaccine during phase 1 are older children (aged 12 years and over) with severe neuro-disabilities and recurrent respiratory tract infections who require residential care. Such vaccinations would be considered unlicensed use, and GPs should seek advice on the benefits and risks with the patient’s paediatrician prior to vaccination. To note that as the vaccination is unlicensed under the age of 18 (Astra Zeneca) and 16 (Pfizer) it would need to be authorised by a prescriber (usually a doctor). 

To also note that if a young person is not under paediatric care, it is very unlikely that their condition is sufficiently significant to warrant inclusion in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (shielding) group.

It is important to stress that at this time the JCVI consider that there are no data to support use of the vaccine in younger age groups or other clinical groups, and we support this view. While this is the case, vaccinations should not be offered to children and young people who fall outside the categories advised by the JCVI and the Green Book. With studies to generate the data for children and young people due to start, evidence will be generated as quickly as possible to enable safe rollout to children and young people.

7 January Lockdown ‘advice’ letters for clinically extremely vulnerable people in England

We are aware that clinically extremely vulnerable children and young people in England have received letters recently suggesting they would be invited for vaccinations in the next month despite not meeting the criteria outlined by the JCVI. We know these letters have caused confusion and upset for families and paediatricians. These letters should not be solely relied upon to identify those eligible for vaccination at this time; rather, we strongly advise all GPs and others involved in vaccination to adhere to the advice provided by the JCVI and the Green Book

Update This article was amended on 29 January 2021 to address paediatricians only.

  • 1. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be eligible for vaccination in priority group 4 (after those aged 75 and over). Those with other clinical vulnerabilities specified by the JCVI will be eligible for the vaccine in priority group 6 (after those aged 65 and over). For further details see the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation: advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination, 30 December 2020.
  • 2. The Green Book, chapter 14a, version 5 (published 21 January 2021).
  • 3. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is authorised for 16 years and over, the AstraZeneca vaccine for 18 years and over. 

RCGP guidance

Guidance on delivering mass vaccinations during COVID-19

Download the guidance on Delivering Mass Vaccinations During COVID-19: A Logistical Guide for General Practice (PDF 732 KB), 25 August 2020.

Version 3.1 of the guidance incorporates new guidance on Infection, Protection and Control and the use of Personal Protective Equipment. Previously, with requirements to change PPE between patients, our view was patients could be vaccinated at approximately four-minute intervals. With the new guidance that only hand hygiene is required and the wearing of a mask for the duration of a session, we expect that patients could reasonably be booked at two-three minute intervals (allowing for social distancing measures).

Guidance for Remote Verification of Expected Death (VoED) out of hospital

During the COVID-19 pandemic the processes in relation to death registration and management across the UK have been changing to ensure the deceased are treated with the utmost respect, to help minimise delays and distress for bereaved families and to protect public health. In these extraordinary times, there is a need for various groups of workers to work differently and together as one system.

This is why, in collaboration with the BMA, we have produced guidance for the verification of expected death with the remote assistance of other workers so that the verification process can be completed by a clinician safely, ensuring that bereaved families do not experience needless delays, reducing the risk of unnecessary exposure to the virus and allowing clinicians to continue on the front line.

Download the Guidance for Remote Verification of Expected Death (82 KB PDF), 21 April 2020.

Workload prioritisation during COVID-19

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the RCGP and the BMA’s GP committee has prepared joint guidance to help practices across the UK to prioritise the clinical and non-clinical workload in general practice.

Guidance on Workload Prioritisation during COVID-19 (357 KB PDF), 11 January 2021

Ethical dimensions of COVID-19 for front-line staff

RCGP has produced Ethical Guidance on COVID-19 and Primary Care which is available on the COVID-19 resource hub.

The Royal College of Physicians has published (31 March) ethical guidance for frontline staff dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, supported by more than a dozen other health organisations including RCGP.   

Royal College of General Practitioners Ethical Guidance on COVID-19 and Primary Care.

Royal College of Physicians Ethical Guidance for frontline staff dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, 31 March 2020

GP returners

Thousands of GPs have responded to the call to return to general practice during the COVID-19 crisis and we are very grateful to you.

A range of guidance for GP returners can be found on our dedicated Returning to general practice during COVID-19 page. This includes UK-wide guidance on returning to practice on a temporary basis, information for GPs wishing to support COVID-19 vaccination in England, and guidance for GPs wishing to remain in the clinical workforce after the COVID-19 emergency period comes to an end.

You can also read a blog post from College President Amanda Howe on the important contribution of late career and retired GPs.

Masks and face coverings

Download the Guidance on masks and face coverings in primary care (298 KB PDF), RCGP, 31 July 2020. 

Medical students in response to COVID-19

This resource acts as a guide to practices considering supplementing their workforce (e.g. use of medical students) in response to COVID-19. This document offers guidance, examples and best practice to suit the needs of your local circumstances.

Download Recruitment and implementation of medical students in response to COVID-19 (759 KB PDF). Last updated 8 April 2020. 


RCGP online resource hub

The COVID-19 Resource Hub has been created to support GPs in understanding and managing this pandemic, with topics ranging from diagnosis to keeping your practice safe. This hub will be updated daily with the latest developments and guidance.

The resource hub includes:

Essential guidance

Key information for GPs during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Remote consultation and triaging

Advice on adapting to changing consultation formats, including best practice for online and telephone triage appointments.

Post-COVID syndrome

Information and resources for GPs supporting patients through recovery from COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccination programme

The latest updates on the COVID-19 vaccine.

General clinical management

Essential information for GPs about COVID-19, from symptoms and diagnosis to protecting practice staff.

Specific clinical management

Managing COVID-19 alongside specific clinical conditions

End of life care

Guidance on dealing with palliative and end of life care, and supporting carers throughout the pandemic.

Specific patient groups and settings 

Information on dealing with specific patient groups throughout the COVID-19 period.

Safeguarding and vulnerable groups

Advice on safeguarding vulnerable patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, including shielding those in high-risk groups. 

Ethics and challenging conversations

Guidance to support GPs with making challenging decisions during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Health inequalities

Information about health equity and caring for socially vulnerable patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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