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GP practices given four weeks to complete outstanding BAME risk assessments

NHS England has written to GP practices asking them to complete risk assessments for at-risk staff within four weeks, including those from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

It said practices need to 'make significant progress' on the assessents 'within the next two weeks and complete them – at least for all staff in at-risk groups – within four weeks'.

The letter also said NHS England has commissioned occupational health service support for primary care services that 'may be via a local NHS trust occupational health department or an independent occupational health provider'.

Practices, who 'remain legally responsible' for occupational health risk assessments, should work with commissioners and PCNs to ensure capacity for occupational health services meets demand at the present time, the letter added.

It comes as earlier this month, the BMA called for GPs to have ‘urgent’ access to occupational health services to support Covid-19 risk assessments in practices.

The letter, signed by NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani, chief people officer Prerana Issar and chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard, further asked practices to publish data on their risk assessment process to date.

This included: 

  • Number of staff risk-assessed and percentage of whole workforce. 
  • Number of BAME staff risk assessments completed and percentage of total risk assessments completed and of whole workforce.
  • Percentage of staff risk-assessed by staff group. 
  • Additional mitigation over and above the individual risk assessments in settings where infection rates are highest. 

The information must be available to all staff and receive ‘scrutiny and ownership’ from senior GP partners, the letter said.

It added: ‘We recognise the sensitive nature of conversations around individual health and wellbeing. But these conversations must take account of the urgency with which we have to ensure our colleagues’ safety.’

The letter signposted to previous guidance but added that providers can use ‘customised tools developed locally with their BAME networks’.

It reiterated that practices should work together in their PCNs to ‘manage any impact on staffing levels to meet anticipated demand and maintain services’.

It followed an update to the GP standard operating procedures which said practices should ensure they risk assess all staff, including those from BAME backgrounds, in order 'to consider if they should see patients face to face'.

And earlier this week, NHS England warned that GP practices should review their Covid-19 business continuity plans, taking into account potentially ‘high levels’ of staff absences and the full closure of premises in the event of local outbreaks.

Examples of good practice in individual risk assessment deployment: 

  • Understanding the role of workplace assessment alongside individual risk assessments 
  • Creating a strategic risk stratification of the workforce – to target those at increased vulnerability first 
  • Working across the ICS/STP and with PCNs to • Clear direction that this is an organisational priority by the leadership team, including CEO ownership and making it a standing item at board meetings (or equivalent in other settings) 
  • Consistent messaging through all channels on the availability of risk assessments 
  • Co-production with local BAME networks 
  • All staff briefings, online training, and support sessions for line managers in deploying high quality risk assessments 
  • Creating a crib sheet for line managers on having conversations on risk assessments 
  • Ensuring OH services are adequately resourced to provide appropriate levels of support and that line managers know how to access this in all settings 
  • Using online and/or smartphone-enabled risk assessments to achieve better adoption 
  • Co-locating risk assessment meetings with staff facilities (eg staff rooms) or COVID-19 testing sites 
  • Setting dedicated days in the week for risk assessments 
  • Creating trained risk assessment helpers within organisations. 

Source: NHS England letter to GP practices, 24 June

Readers' comments (14)

  • who pays for this then?

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  • Sounds like scapegoating. NHSE won't have half it's workforce, including A&E cleaners and porters if it did an honest risk assessment. It knows the gravity of igniting this fire, but it can't muster any sense of purpose or direction, flailing around avoiding the subject. Duty of candour, hilarious.

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  • I can feel a downdraft of blame coming to GP partners.

    We need clear guidance from above as to what risk levels are acceptable (death rate of 6/1000, 3/1000) once we've done our assessments.

    Clearly then all have a risk, and absolute risk will depend on local prevalence as much as personal factors.
    Lots of covid around = high risk.

    F2F is increasing -we are going to need significant increase in staff funding to be able to meaningfully act on the assessments we make.

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  • THERE IS AN ENDLESS STREAM OF NHS ENGLAND BULLYING CURRENTLY AND THIS SEEMS TO HAVE REACHED "PANDEMIC" PROPORTIONS. THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT BAME STAFF OR FOR THAT MATTER ANYONE IN PRIMARY CARE, JUST ABOUT TICKING BOXES AND SHOWING THEIR BOSSES HOW GOOD THEY ARE AT ACTING LIKE THICK BULLIES....

    WHY WOULD ANY TALENTED DOCTORS WANT TO JOIN PRIMARY CARE AND WORK FOR THESE SHY TEDS.....?

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  • This comment has been removed by the moderator

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  • remuneration?

    none--say no

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  • How are we supposed to assess this risk? What tools or training do we have? What is an acceptable risk ? Who will pay us for this and for the risk assessed Locums who will fill the gaps?

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  • more drivel from these silly people.....

    more chance of those being shat on leaving early.

    thank god i'm in locumland, and in wales - if i was working in england, NHSE's recent antics would have ensured my early exit."

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  • original comment deemed sexist and deleted (by female moderator) - see earlier.
    now reposted with "girl" changed to "people"

    more drivel from these silly people.....

    more chance of those being shat on leaving early.

    thank god i'm in locumland, and in wales - if i was working in england, NHSE's recent antics would have ensured my early exit."

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  • As employers GPs do need do risk assessments...NHSE as a commissioner has no responsibility and it is not up to them to bully people into ticking boxes so the politicians can claim another success

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