GPs were asked not to close for scheduled protected learning time training on Wednesday after a ‘major incident’ was declared due to ‘extreme bed pressure’ at local hospitals.
A letter from NHS Cumbria CCG was issued to all Cumbrian practices at 10.16am asking them not to transfer responsibility to the GP out-of-hours service that afternoon, and ensure a receptionist and GP were on hand to take urgent appointments following incidents at Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland hospital.
GPs said they received they received very little demand from patients, and said this was a ‘wasted opportunity’ for staff training.
The letter to GPs states: ‘Both Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital are experiencing extreme bed pressure and as a result a major incident has been called.’
It adds: ‘In view of this situation, the CCG has agreed to ask each practice to remain open this afternoon and not transfer their phone lines to Cumbria Health On Call (out-of-hours provider). Practices are asked to ensure there is a receptionist and GP present to pick up urgent on-the-day appointments.
‘Practices are still able to continue with their PLT training events on this basis.’
Lancashire and Cumbria LMCs chief executive Peter Higgins told Pulse the implication was that GP training put pressure on hospitals.
He said: ‘Most GPs felt annoyed, if not angry, that this unilateral decision had been made. It assumes that the pressures on the hospital beds are because there are too many admissions, and having GPs sitting in each of the practices yesterday afternoon would have had a material impact on that, and I think many GPs would contest that.’
He said the incident was a norovirus outbreak and the hospital had to close beds.
Mr Higgins said: ‘Anecdotally from a few GPs that did sit in the surgery, they got absolutely nothing.’
One Cumbrian GP responded to the news on Twitter saying: ‘We have had 4 patients. Wasted opp 4 staff training.’
A spokesperson for Cumbria CCG told Pulse no training was cancelled yesterday, despite it being raised as a possibility.
They said: ‘As a health system, we look to all areas for support during an issue such as the one we had in North Cumbria’