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Preparing for coronavirus is more important than gimmick policies



I’m no microbiologist, and I’m the least qualified person to discuss the effect of the coronavirus. But I can discuss preparations.

In fairness to the health authorities, there is only so much you can do in preparation. And, according to most, it seems the preparations so far are sensible. Yes, there are some concerning issues but this is almost inevitable.

However, one gripe is around NHS England’s attitude to online bookings. This system – with its lack of triage – does present problems for practices in treating such an infectious disease. The latest guidance says that ‘patients booking in by telephone or online who meet the case definition should be directed to NHS 111’. But this is useless for practices that don’t have the capacity to check the symptoms of all patients booking online.

When we’re supposed to be pulling together, this seems like a failure to support GP practices

It seems sensible to implement a blanket policy to allow practices to switch it off while we are in preparation stage – but NHS England has explicitly ruled this out.

The failure of the Government to implement a blanket policy speaks to a wider picture. Like a dog with a new toy, ministers will not let their gimmicky schemes go lightly.

But when we are all supposed to be pulling together, this seems like a failure to support GP practices.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at editor@pulsetoday.co.uk