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GP practices 'asked to trace patients who have come into contact with measles'

Exclusive Public health teams are requesting that GP practices trace patients who have come into contact with measles, Pulse has learned.

Local GP leaders said a GP practice was put under 'undue pressure' to provide information on all patients who were in the waiting room at the same time as a patient who was later diagnosed with measles.

The BMA confirmed that this work is not covered under the GMS contract and, as such, practices are not obliged to trace patients.

In a notice to local GPs, Worcestershire LMC said: ‘Practices are being contacted by Public Health asking them to perform contact tracing. There are two problems with this. The first is that it is not a contractual obligation and the second is what practices are being asked to do is probably impossible anyway.’

It added: ‘A practice nearby was recently asked to provide information of all the patients that were in the waiting room at the time the patient was there with, what turned out to be, measles.

‘Public Health has been putting undue pressure on practices to do this work and the LMC advice is to robustly decline. GPs are not commissioned to provide such services.’

The BMA said it had heard of GP practices being pressured to perform contact tracing following the recent spike in measles cases, but said this was not 'a GP practice's role'.

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'Practices work hard to ensure as many children are immunised as possible to protect them against measles. However when there is a local outbreak there can be an inconsistent approach taken to support the practices that are impacted.

'It’s not a GP practice’s role to contact trace, and Public Health England, NHS England and CCGs need to work better together to ensure that outbreaks are dealt with appropriately and that when practices are involved they are fully supported with the necessary resources.'

A Public Health England spokesperson said: 'We have not put any national communications out asking GPs to follow up with contact tracing. The responsibility for this normally sits with local health protection teams.'

Pulse has approached Worcestershire County Council for comment.

The news comes as recent figures showed that in the first six months of 2018 there were 643 confirmed measles cases in England, with 225 in London alone. In comparison, there were just 267 reported cases across the whole country last year.

PHE has attributed the sharp rise to a drop in the vaccination rate in the early 2000s.

Coverage levels dipped to a low of 80% in 2003, leading to large numbers of unprotected young adults now at risk of catching measles, particularly in environments such as summer festivals and when travelling abroad.

Readers' comments (10)

  • Another load of rubbish . Do these people think before speaking. How on earth GP practice will know who was in waiting area at the time measles patient was in their reception area unless they want practice to contact all patients around that patients appointment time. How much admin burden that is going to be & who is going to pay for that . God forbid if practice is one of those big practice with 30000 patients and 15 partners which will have around 200 + patients waiting at same time

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  • A statement about this from the BMA from a Data Protection point of view would be welcome.

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  • This is perhaps not really a case to discuss whose job it is, but who is supposed to know how to do it.
    The information sought is not generally available from GP Practices, however hard they try to comply, since we do not record it (unless we have CCTV).
    I would expect the MOEH to do something like posters and newspaper ads advising people who had been present at the time to come forward, and such a campaign needs designing and handling by a PH expert.
    Anyway, I thought measles was caught by close household contact? Who was in school with them is far more important!
    GPs might be able to list all patient not immunised - that request might be reasonable!
    The current one sounds impossible.

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  • Is this not a breach of confidentiality? What if Mr Jones doesn't want Mrs Jones to know he went to see the GP and there's a knock at the door from PHE? Be very careful.

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  • So we need to be Sherlock homes and leave every thing else

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  • Weirder than Trump

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  • This is another request for an already very stretched general practice. Yet another task for GP with no money attached. I agree with previous comments about confidentiality. What is the transmission rate of measles from a GP waiting room? Must be very low surely.
    Sorry, we won’t be engaging.

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  • "GP SHOULD DO"
    every day some guy comes with rubbish idea. this is one of many.
    if measles is diagnosed then it is job of those who are in-charge of communicable disease to trace contacts.
    what would you do by contacting them?

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  • Not contractual work. How much are you offering?

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  • Ideally placed 😂

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