A major academic study is to be undertaken into the recent dramatic changes in general practice during the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been announced.
Researchers are to study the way a million people in the west of England reacted to the pandemic and requests not to visit GP surgeries.
There will also be “brief” but regular interviews with staff at some practices – asking how the practices could benefit from further support to meet the demands of the pandemic and the lockdown.
The project is being undertaken at Bristol University and funded by the National Institute for Health Research. It will span the districts of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
Researcher Dr Mairead Murphy, from the university’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, said: “The current situation is an opportunity to rapidly research how GP practices respond to the pandemic in the way they manage demand and implement alternatives to the face-to-face consultation. This is of interest regionally, nationally and internationally and we hope this will enable innovation to be shared among general practice, and with other health systems to improve their response to the pandemic.”
Fellow researcher Dr Jeremy Horwood added: “Responding to the new norm of social distancing, GP practices have had to rapidly adopt new ways of delivering care remotely. This is a huge change, with primary care being transformed in a matter of weeks. Most appointments are now happening over the phone or online, when previously eight out of ten would have been face to face. It is vital we examine how GP practices are dealing with these changes and what can be done to support them to safely delivering care to patient during the current crisis.“