GPs are to report Covid staff absences via a new tool that will launch next week, NHS England has said.
A Covid staff absence tracker is currently being refined so GPs can register absences through this new platform.
In an email bulletin sent to practices today, NHS England said it is ‘working at pace to refine the Covid-19 staff absence tracker so that all primary care contractors can commence absence reporting via this platform from next week’, with further information ‘to follow’.
The data collected by the tool will be used by employers to monitor staff levels and to help them take ‘any necessary action’ to maintain ‘key activities’ if staff are affected by Covid, NHS England said.
It added that NHS England does not access staff members’ individual absence records.
But it said: ‘NHS England and NHS Improvement produce reports in aggregated form (numbers) for the purposes of monitoring absence and managing the response to the Covid emergency nationally.’
Pulse asked NHS England what action it will take if there are high levels of absences, but NHS England declined to comment.
The bulletin reminded practices they are required to report Covid outbreaks and ensure the NHS 111 Directory of Services is updated to signpost patients to available services.
It said: ‘It is essential that providers inform their local commissioner when the delivery of services is compromised or reduced by staff absences, whether or not attributed to a Covid-19 outbreak, in line with local reporting and escalation processes in order to support service continuity and resilience plans.
‘Your commissioner will work with you to find resolutions during these challenging times.’
This comes as GP practices struggle with Covid staff absences, with 95% experiencing much higher levels of staff off sick than usual.
Meanwhile, the bulletin also announced the launch of a new online payments tool to ‘support the management and payment of local incentive schemes’.
The ‘CQRS Local’ system will make payments without the need for practices to submit invoices following the approval of a claim and will ‘reduce administration time’ for both practices and commissioners, NHS England said.