The BMA and RCGP have updated their guidance on workload prioritisation during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The advice has been changed because ‘the situation with Covid-19 continues to evolve’ and aims to give GPs more freedom to organise their workload as public life returns to ‘normal’ but general practice is still ‘under intense pressure’.
They advise that commissioners should carry on restricting or halting ‘additional expectations of practices, such as local enhanced services’.
Meanwhile, GPs should continue to evaluate and reprioritise their workload, ‘using clinical judgement and reflecting both patient need and local circumstances’, they say.
These contexts may include ‘staffing levels, local disease prevalence and patient demographics’.
But operating on ‘response levels’ and ‘RAG ratings’ is no longer necessary, said the guidance.
The BMA and RCGP’s previous guidance, given in January, was that ‘most’ GP practices should stop non-essential work. NHS England had also set out a range of measures to address GP workload.
But since the standard operating procedure for general practice during the pandemic was withdrawn on 19 July, the BMA and RCGP now feel ‘it is no longer appropriate to provide national guidance on how this should be done’.
The guidance added that ‘previously deprioritised work may need to be reviewed’. Tasks which are not ‘clinically urgent’, such as DVLA medical checks, may need completing to maintain people’s wellbeing and businesses.
The document recognised workloads will differ based on location, and that practices may require support from CCGs, health boards and LMCs.
It said: ‘External commissioners and organisations should be aware that there will continue to be significant variation in local capacity in general practice, subject to local circumstances, Covid-19 prevalence, and staffing levels.
‘It is for practices to determine how they meet the reasonable needs of their patients.’