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GPs go forth

GPs still required to alert PHE of all ‘suspected’ Covid cases

GPs are still required to alert Public Health England (PHE) of any ‘suspected’ cases of coronavirus, the Government has confirmed.

Covid-19 was first listed as a ‘notifiable’ disease by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) at the beginning of March, meaning that GPs are required by law to report all ‘suspected’ cases to PHE.

But GPs have raised concerns over the practicality of the arrangements now that coronavirus is so widespread in the community.

At the latest count, more than two million people have been tested for suspected Covid-19 in the UK, of which over 250,000 tested positive.

However, the DHSC has now confirmed to Pulse that the legal requirement remains in force.

East London GP and PCN clinical director Dr Farzana Hussain told Pulse that reporting suspected rather than proven cases ‘doesn’t make sense’, especially since symptoms are too wide-ranging.

She said: ‘Without testing, the whole thing is confusing. Everybody with a fever, everybody now with loss of taste or smell - the symptoms are just too wide.

‘I know doctors who work in hospital who have had a fever and then had the test and it’s been negative. So we all thought it was Covid but it isn’t.’

If the figures are for data collection, they are ‘completely erroneous’, Dr Hussain said.

She added: ‘In terms of scientific data collection it just doesn’t make sense because some of those people won’t be Covid. What are we measuring?’

And with coronavirus so widespread in the community, she added that GPs may be struggling to follow the requirement ‘robustly’.

According to PHE’s list of notifiable diseases, ‘accuracy of diagnosis is secondary’.

It said: ‘PHE aims to detect possible outbreaks of disease and epidemics as rapidly as possible. Accuracy of diagnosis is secondary and since 1968 clinical suspicion of a notifiable infection is all that’s required.’

Earlier this week, the UK’s chief medical officers added anosmia - the loss of taste and smell - to the list of symptoms that should prompt people to self-isolate due to possible Covid-19.

Readers' comments (9)

  • How can we report when we cant test for it?Doesn't the big shiny hosptials and super-dooper testing centres report the results?They are the ones actually able to do the tests.We Im afraid are not trusted to do them so cant really notify.More of our world class health service leader thinking.Give them a clap of even get the local pan bangers to give them what they deserve.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Track record and consistency .
    I presume that the government has reported to PHE ‘suspected Covid-19’ on behalf of Mr Cummings who drove long distance to parents’ house being already symptomatic for two to three days ?

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  • Why can’t they just run a data search rather than time consuming individual forms to fill in and check - pretty sure secondary care aren’t notifying Suspected cases they discharged without testing

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  • Surely it would be more efficient for patients with appropriate symptoms to report themselves to PHE.
    You could do it via the new app.

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  • @ Vinci Ho
    Don't be silly Vinci!
    Don't you know these rules only apply to the little people?

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  • Peasants ! Know your place!

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  • Er - if you look at reporting of infectious diseases it has always been SUSPECTED - labs have a legal duty to notify CONFIRMED
    In addition the local authority will follow up notifications & "remind" about isolation & can if necessary involve police for the odd "typhoid Mary" or "dominic" who just doesnt get it!
    So easy to do now electronic......

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  • hidden agenda?

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