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.

RCGP long term conditions recovery guidance

For the last 2 years GP's and their teams have worked incredibly hard to respond to the challenges of the pandemic - providing Covid care, routine care as well as playing a key role in the delivery of the Covid vaccination programme. As we begin to exit the pandemic, primary care and the wider healthcare system has already started to tackle the challenge of recovering routine care for patients. The "long term condition and pandemic recovery in primary care" guidance sets out suggested actions that can be considered to support long term condition management over the next six months and as we move through the next phases of the pandemic, recognising that in many instances that annual reviews were not possible during the pandemic. The aim is to ensure, where possible, that those who need care most and are at highest risk are seen first, rather than default to standard arrangements such as birthdays to determine when patients are called for review across the year.

New government guidance on isolation for healthcare staff

We wish to draw your attention to new government guidance (for England) relating to health and social care staff who develop symptoms or test positive for COVID. COVID-19: management of staff and exposed patients or residents in health and social care settings.

Isolation requirements for patients and residents in health and social care settings are also covered.

The guidance has been written by UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) primarily for a health and care professional audience in England, with input from NHS England. Please refer to Health Protection Scotland, Public Health Wales, or Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland for country specific advice.

In the best interests of keeping the wider practice team and patients safe, we recommend that GP practices carry out a risk assessment before arranging return to work for staff members once the isolation period has ended.

Latest advice in your area

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

RCGP guidance

Workload prioritisation during the accelerated booster vaccination campaign

The emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, in combination with broader winter pressures, has the potential to significantly impact on the delivery of general practice and wider NHS services. The RCGP is monitoring this rapidly evolving situation closely and has worked with the BMA to create a workload prioritisation guide, intended to support practices in their planning as general practice pivots to deliver the accelerated COVID-19 booster campaign.  The guidance will be reviewed on a regular basis as the situation develops.

For more information, please refer to the joint RCGP/BMA guidance on workload prioritisation (PDF file, 515 KB) (dated 21 December 2021).

Shielding Patient List is coming to an end

The Department of Health and Social Care are writing all patients on the Shielded Patient List (SPL) to inform them that the requirement for shielding guidance for patients previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable is will end. The SPL was created at the beginning of the pandemic when very little was known about COVID-19. Patients on this list were advised to follow shielding advice to avoid contact with the virus while we learned more about COVID-19 and its effects.

There will be a very small number of patients advised to isolate or reduce their social contact for short periods of time due to the nature of their medical condition or treatment, for example have a particularly severe degree of immunosuppression. These patients will be informed of this by their consultant. Any patient who was shielding and has questions should discuss these with their consultant at their next routine appointment. The RCGP e-learning module outlines key information for GPs as the shielding programme draws to a close.

Children and young people (CYP) - Shielded Patient List

The Department of Health and Social Care are writing to CYP patients and their parents to inform them that they are no longer clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV). The Shielded Patient List was created at the beginning of the pandemic when very little was known about COVID-19. Patients on this list were advised to follow shielding advice to avoid contact with the virus while we learned more about COVID-19 and its effects.

Recent research shows that children and young people, including those originally considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable, are at very low risk of becoming seriously unwell from the virus. DHSC has written to all under-18s on the Shielded Patient List to inform them that they will no longer be included on that list. Read the FAQ document from the DHSC.

There will be a very small number of patients advised to isolate or reduce their social contact for short periods of time due to the nature of their medical condition or treatment. These patients will be under a specialist consultant and should continue to follow their advice.

CYP vaccination eligibility is not affected by the changes to the Shielded Patient List. Vaccination is now available for all 16-17 year olds. Some 12-15 year olds are also eligible for vaccination because of the very specific risks they face and the particular benefits they will receive from the vaccine. However, being eligible for vaccination does not mean CYP are considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable or need to shield.

NHS Digital has worked with GP system providers to create searches to help practices identify those patients aged 12-15 who are eligible for the vaccination as per Green Book guidelines, and this should be taken forward as planned.

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.

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.

Information for those would like to support ongoing efforts to deliver the COVID-19 vaccination programme, or who have returned to practice temporarily, and now wish to stay on a long-term basis, can be found on our Returning to General Practice in the UK page.

You can also read blog posts from College President Amanda Howe and Later Career and Retired Members Committee Chair Mona Aquilina 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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