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Covid-concerned schools ‘requesting GP notes for sore throats’

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Schools concerned about coronavirus are demanding GP notes from parents to say children can attend with common respiratory tract infections such as sore throats, GPs have claimed.

Children returned to classrooms this month for the first time since lockdown commenced in March, but a number of concerns are being raised about how schools are supposed to act in line with Covid guidelines. 

Dr Sonali Kinra, a GP in North West London who has experienced the problem, is calling for clearer public health messaging to teachers and parents.

She told Pulse: ‘The case definition of Covid-19 hasn’t changed, and schools should continue to follow guidance on its case definition.

‘Asking for letters from GPs [to say] children [are] OK to attend school is adding not only to the workload of parents who are trying to balance their work and children, but also increasing general practice workload – there are only these many hours in a day!’

The Department of Education does not appear to have any guidelines on this, or encourage schools to seek out GP notes relating to the Covid pandemic. But other practices are also experiencing similar requests.

Describing being ‘inundated’ with calls from parents of children with viral symptoms, London GP Dr Rammya Mathew said that there should be NHS guidelines to which GPs or schools can be directed.

Dr Liz Pollara, who works in North London and whose practice has also fielded requests, said: ‘Unfortunately, although I’m sympathetic to the current difficulties in getting Covid tests, GPs cannot be expected to provide letters in this way.

‘GPs do not have access to tests and if someone meets the criteria for testing, there is no way a GP could exclude Covid until they have a negative test.’

Other GPs, meanwhile, reported footing an increasing number of inappropriate requests from schools since they reopened.

The latest addition to workload comes amid coronavirus-related requests from airlines; patients seeking exemption notes from wearing mandatory face coverings on public transport and in shops; and even those booking hair cuts.


Anonymous 17 September, 2020 2:44 pm

£50 a pop, no problem

Anonymous 18 September, 2020 3:54 am

In the absence of leadership from any government quango. Is there leadership from RCGP or BMA on this matter that general practice can unite behind?
Nah. Not their job.

Anonymous 18 September, 2020 1:00 pm

I send the bill to the school – don’t get any more requests after that.

Susie Mitchell 23 September, 2020 6:18 pm

There is helpful guidance from the Scottish Government regarding the difference & it was sent to all parents of state school pupils in Scotland. Very useful & if schools require otherwise, a fee should be charged.

David jenkins 23 September, 2020 6:42 pm


this work should be done OUTSIDE the nhs, and therefore needs to be paid for OUTSIDE the nhs.

you don’t go to tesco without cash, and if you want this service then tou need to bring cash with you – none of this “i’ll drop it in later” malarkey !!

Kamilla Walenczykiewicz 23 September, 2020 8:30 pm

Irrespective of the increase in workload, who am I to magically and reassuringly announce that a child’s “viral” symptoms are not COVID-19?!? Ethically, I can’t write any letter other than to say the child is presenting with viral symptoms; whether it’s coronavirus or not, can’t say.

Milos Lukic 24 September, 2020 9:01 pm

The only possible way to deal with this type of request is to leave a downloadable letter on the practice website stating quite correctly that you can’t exclude Covid based on symptoms then direct requests from schools or parents to the website. Even if you did a face to face consultation you wouldn’t be able to exclude Covid so it’s saving both precious GP time plus minimising any exposure by the patient that may result from a visit to a health facility .

Abhijit Bhattacharyya 28 September, 2020 7:07 am

I am thinking of giving parents the local Public Health number to call. They are supposed to address such issues.