A GP has written about the pressures faced by many practices because of public alarm about the risk of coronavirus spread.
General practice needs more clarity and forward planning to be ready for the risk of a pandemic, according to Dr Zara Aziz, a GP in Bristol. Dr Aziz wrote in the Guardian after a neighbouring practice in Bristol was briefly closed and underwent deep-cleaning in a coronavirus scare.
Wider or longer practice closures would have an impact on neighbouring practices as well as hospitals, Dr Aziz warns.
According to guidance, patients who call concerned about coronavirus should be directed to NHS 111 and told to stay at home. Dr Aziz reports cases of patients being referred back to her practice by the 111 service.
She said: “This has been contrary to the guidance and has created confusion and delays. We have had to liaise with different agencies to discuss screening and containment measures. On one occasion this took three hours of a colleague’s time.”
“General practice is at a precipice and any small shifts in workload could send it into free-falling. This is particularly a concern for smaller practices or those already in distress. There is currently no system for flagging workload pressure and rising demand, such as the Opel alerting system in hospitals,” she warned.
* The World Health Organisation yesterday reported the first significant increase in coronavirus deaths outside China, increasing the total recorded deaths from three to eight. Two of these are thought to be passengers on a cruise ship quarantined in Japan. In China the death toll increased by 115 to 2,121. The total number of globally confirmed cases reached 75,748. The UK has reported nine cases and no deaths.