Any new or updated GP infection control guidance must reflect ‘high Covid levels’ and the size and layout of practice buildings, the BMA has said.
New guidelines must ‘reflect the high levels of Covid-19 circulating in the community’ and the ‘unique and varied general practice estate – including the size and layout limitations of many surgery buildings’, the BMA GP committee said.
Deputy chair Dr Mark Sanford-Wood said: ‘For example, it would be hard for some premises to accommodate large numbers of patients even with reduced physical distancing.
‘Safety must be front and centre and any new guidance must not be used to force through policies around access that would put patients and staff in harm’s way.’
He added: ‘Practices have been doing everything they can – working within the framework of national guidance – to provide care throughout the pandemic while keeping staff and patients safe through infection control measures.’
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) yesterday announced changes to infection control guidance in elective care settings, including reduced social distancing from two metres to one metre ‘where patient access can be controlled’, and reverting to ‘standard rather than enhanced’ cleaning routines.
And patients undergoing selected elective care procedures no longer require a negative PCR test and three days self-isolation beforehand.
The Government said the changes aim to ‘ease the pressure created by the pandemic on NHS capacity over the next few months’.
It follows the BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey and health secretary Sajid Javid holding an ‘emergency’ first meeting last Thursday about the abuse currently being suffered by GPs.
Amongst other things, the BMA called for ‘clear public backing for GPs’ acknowledging ‘the huge pressure they are under’ and urgent investment in primary care to ‘remove unnecessary bureaucracy’.
Earlier this month, health secretary Sajid Javid said it is ‘high time’ that GPs returned to ‘pre-pandemic’ practices of offering face-to-face appointments to ‘everyone who would like one’.