Primary care may need to establish long-term COVID “hot hubs” to segregate infected patients from others, according to advice issued in England.
NHS England says it wants to direct practices back to some of the objectives it had set at the beginning of the year – before the pandemic – but practices should also expect to maintain changes introduced during the crisis. These include total triage and technology-enabled service delivery options, according to a letter issued last week by the organisations primary care directors Dr Nikki Kanani and Ed Waller.
The letter says “hot hubs” make sense in the longer-term. Digital consultation should now be the standard first offer, it says. Face-to-face care should be delivered when clinically appropriate, according to the letter, obtained by the Health Service Journal.
It goes on to speak of an “urgent need” to give priority to some non-COVID aspects of care, including early cancer diagnosis and care of people with learning difficulties. The letter says there are talks with the general practice committee of the British Medical Association – but NHS England expects practices to resume clinical reviews of the frail and routine medicine prescriptions together with offering health checks to the over-75s. It then calls on primary care networks to ensure they recruit all the new clinical staff, such as pharmacists, for which they are receiving funding.