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RCGP calls for direct GP access to Covid testing for patients

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GPs should be able to access Covid-19 tests directly for their patients when clinically necessary, the RCGP has said.

In a letter to the head of NHS Test and Trace, Baroness Dido Harding, the RCGP it was ‘clear that the current system is not working’.

RCCP chair Professor Martin Marshall said the Government had implied that the public were responsible for a surge in unnecessary demand for tests but this contradicts previous messaging urging people with symptoms to get tested.

He said that difficulties in getting a test were having a knock-on effect in general practice as ‘GPs are being inundated with requests from patients struggling to access testing’ near them, Professor Marshall wrote.

He added: ‘GPs should also have rapid access to testing for patients within general practice, where clinically appropriate.

‘GPs will be better able to diagnose other diseases that present similarly to Covid-19, such as kidney infections, septicaemia and meningitis, if they can access testing for patients within general practice.’

Professor Marshall also pointed out that GPs were struggling to access tests for themselves and their staff.

He called for the test and trace system in the UK must be ‘urgently expanded and optimised’ to better serve patients and general practice staff, the Royal College of GPs has urged.

There is currently a postcode lottery in access to Pillar 1 testing for GPs, which is leading to some areas which are already struggling with shortages of doctors, being hit doubly hard during the pandemic, the letter which was sent last week states.

Earlier this month, Pulse reported that GPs were unable to work due to the ‘Covid testing farce’.

 The BMA has also called for priority access to Covid-19 swabs for GP staff as part of a range of measures to help general practice cope with ‘an incredibly difficult winter’.