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GPs go forth

Government's 'confusing' Covid message to put strain on GP practices, warns BMA

GP practices will likely be contending with new workload in light of the Government's announcement it is easing the coronavirus lockdown in England, the BMA's GP Committee has warned.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said this could include more requests for fit notes and letters to employers, as the Government said people who cannot work from home should begin to return to work from this week.

He also warned that the 'confusing' message was likely to increase the risk of the virus spreading and putting strain on the NHS, including GP services.

Dr Vautrey said: 'One of the Westminster Government’s key tests for easing lockdown is ensuring the NHS can cope – and this of course must include general practice.

'The Government’s confusing messages around working, travelling and visiting public places heightens the chances of the virus spreading further and extending the current crisis. In turn, this could increase pressure on services, including GP practices, which are supporting their patients through the pandemic.'

In a speech to the nation last night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Government now needed 'to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work'.

But Dr Vautrey said: 'Specifically, as more people are expected to return to work, practices are likely to be faced with more requests for fit notes and letters for concerned patients’ employers.

'We know GPs are already worried at the large backlog of poorly patients not getting the treatment they need because of efforts to tackle Covid-19 – and any attempts to ease lockdown measures must not overwhelm the NHS and risk delaying their care even further.'

In a 50-page explainer to the easing of the lockdown published this afternoon, the Government also announced more details about the care home support service which it is expecting GP practices to participate in.

This includes each care home having a named clinician by this Friday (15 May) at the latest.

The document also said that:

  • the Government 'remains committed to delivering its manifesto', including 'creating 50 million new GP surgery appointments';
  • it 'is likely that the Government will continue to advise people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to shield beyond June';
  • it 'is possible a safe and effective vaccine will not be developed for a long time (or even ever)';
  • 'homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances'.

Readers' comments (8)

  • "the Government 'remains committed to delivering its manifesto', including 'creating 50 million new GP surgery appointments'"


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  • 5000 new GPs - where are they?

    6000 new GPs - where are they?

    22,000 new health workers, where are they?

    Covid fund, where is it?

    All those Outpatient appointments, where did they go?

    All those operations, where did they go?

    Care Home Ward Rounds in October, No by the end of the week!

    NHSE will pay for Bank Holidays, where is the money?

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  • Confused or pure incompetence?

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  • Anon GP . Those 5000 Doctors have come out of retirement and doing work that would perhaps be done by the locum workforce. My hours have been cut because of the few Face to Face consultations taking place . Some Locums have no work ! It is mad that in this pandemic some of us are keen to work but the work has dried up !! Some locums have no foreseeable work . WFT !!

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  • @truth finder:
    what about 'treason'?

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  • i am stocking up again on toilet roll, milk and alcohol again for the second wave about to hit - in about 2 to 3 weeks time , give or take a few days. usually the second wave is worst than the first, followed by a third which is much less than both - however, as the virus has not been allowed to build up herd immunity in the community, we will probaly have quite a number of waves till every one has been exposed. it will be a game globally of open and lockdown measures till the whole planet has been exposed. even with a vaccine its unlikely to fully protect the over 80s and high risk immunosuppressed. I see germany is in talks with greece about allowing holiday travel there again. Some people really dont get the science. once you open your borders with no vaccine available your rates of infection are going to go back up again. there is a famine about to hit east africa in june due to locusts destroying all their crops, , watch the population migrate to europe in response, ie greece, bringing covid with them. total madness out there.

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  • this has the potential to go very very badly wrong.

    at the moment people are getting fed up with being locked down - but they are now used to it. it has become accepted, and part of their way of life.

    if you lift it, then you will have huge difficulty reinstating it - you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

    a lot of the long suffering gp workforce are getting pissed off with NHSE and HMG issuing diktats to them simply to deflect joe public's attention from their ineptitude. some of them have had enough, and will leave.

    if (or, rather, when) they go, there will be fewer left to deal with the second wave. there will be a domino effect, and the workforce will be very heavily dependent on those who have reduced their hours, on come to locumland.

    every locum i know has limited their hours - it is the only way to keep work manageable.

    those in NHSE or HMG will get found out.

    there are no extra "5000" doctors, and if you continue to irritate and annoy the ones you already have, it won't take very long till the whole house of cards collapses.

    don't let them say we didn't warn them !

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