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The waiting game

GPs should assume ‘most’ patients have Covid-19 and use PPE, says NHS England

GPs should now assume that ‘most’ patients have coronavirus (Covid-19) and use PPE on a sessional basis, NHS England has said.

Public Health England (PHE) published updated guidance yesterday that stopped short of explicitly recommending GPs use PPE for all patient contacts, although it suggested this may be necessary depending on ‘local risk assessment’.

But speaking in a live webinar yesterday evening, NHS England medical director for primary care Dr Nikki Kanani went further by recommending that GPs treat all patients as possible cases.

She said: ‘We now have to presume that most people will be Covid-positive.’

PHE national incident director for Covid-19 Dr Susan Hopkins added that GPs should take a ‘precautionary approach’ and use PPE on a sessional basis for all patient contact.

She said: ‘In this time of uncertainty when we know that there are high amounts of Covid-19 circulating in our communities and in our hospitals, people should be able to take a precautionary approach and therefore decide when they want to wear the PPE that is needed.

‘To keep people safe and to ensure they feel safe in their working environment, we are recommending that people can and should use PPE for the duration of the session to prevent infection.’

One of the ‘big things’ to change in the new guidance is the recommendation that GPs should use eye protection when seeing a ‘suspected or confirmed’ case of Covid-19, Dr Hopkins added.

She said: ‘Visors or eye protection should be part of the kits that get sent out and we have discussed with the supply chain how important that is to be done as rapidly as possible.’

Dr Kanani confirmed that eye protection ‘will be added to the kit’ being provided to GP practices.

PHE's guidance published yesterday said that primary care professionals should use PPE when coming within two metres of a 'possible or confirmed' case of coronavirus. 

This should include a fluid-resistant (Type IIR) surgical mask; plastic apron; eye protection; and gloves, PHE said.

And it did stress, for all health professionals, that 'ultimately, where staff consider there is a risk to themselves or the individuals they are caring for they should wear a fluid repellent surgical mask'.

It said this could be 'with or without eye protection, as determined by the individual staff member for the episode of care or single session'.

It comes as a number of GPs calling the new ‘emergency’ helpline to request PPE have been redirected to their ‘usual suppliers’ to buy the items they need.

And some GPs have come together to share homemade PPE in attempts to compensate for the ongoing supply problems.

Related images

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Readers' comments (22)

  • Rogue1

    Do you trust the government when the new PPE guidance 2April, says primary care don't need to use surgical masks! Only for the extremely vulnerable who are being shielded??
    You cannot be serious !

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  • Rogue1

    It says specifically primary care, optometry and dental don't need any mask!
    Most dentists are shut as they are classed as high risk AGP? But also says in any setting we should be using FFP?
    Another set of great/unclear guidance. Well done PHE

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  • After waiting far too long for the government to deliver adequate PPE we have just ordered some through a local vet practice - it will arrive on Monday .

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  • The horse bolted weeks ago. NHS England and it’s acolytes late to the party and as dim witted, slothe and possibly culpable as always. To all my colleagues in health and social care: treat any guidance and advice from NHSE with suspicion and follow infection control and prevention measures rigorously risk assessing every single patient contact trying to prevent becoming a vector. PPE from hardware stores, butchers, food processing plants, paint manufacturers, car repair workshops, university clean labs etc

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  • What a suprise, we have been doing this for the last 2 weeks !Therefore running out of PPE

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  • Nhsfatcat

    Time and time again GPs JFDI without proper core funding. PCN DES gets foisted on us yesterday, PPE crap, NHSE and SoS are of little help. Let's be more Geldof. Just give us the f.....g money and let us get on with it

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  • Eye protection is essential. Nikki is thinking along the right lines. There is no point locking all the other doors and leave 2 doors wide open.

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  • FFP2 masks will be useful when bog rolls run out

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  • agree, treat all patients as possible and we need the kit including eye wear

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  • meanwhile passengers arriving at heathrow from Milan, Spain, New York board the underground without any checks

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