It’s not often I say this, but I feel for politicians and NHS officials right now in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. The decision as to whether to shut down the country, like is happening in Italy, is one I am glad I never have to take. It’s easy to say that a shutdown will stop the spread, so let’s move immediately.
But they have to take into account patient behaviour – will people get fatigue and therefore lessen its impact? And there are the economic factors, which will have huge ramifications for the health of the nation.
And I am fully aware that the research and the numbers of people affecting are changing on an hourly basis. It is hard to be a politician right now.
However, I can’t help but feel that they are a step behind when it comes to informing GPs. Guidance that came out yesterday muddies the waters. There are unanswered questions, and answering these have to be a priority:
- Most importantly, what do GPs do about patients presenting with respiratory symptoms with no relevant travel history and no known contact with positive Covid-19 patients?
- When are healthcare professionals going to be eligible for the same level of testing as, say, health ministers?
- Should GPs be using PPE for every consultation?
- Do practices have to undergo a decontamination process every time they have seen a patient with a cough that they have had to send to hospital?
- What happens if practices haven’t got room for an ‘isolation space’?
- Can practices stop online booking?
- Should practices be aiming to fulfil their QOF requirements for the remainder of the year?
We have been asking these questions. And they need to be answered now.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at email@example.com