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Covid-19: GP practices may need to stop routine services in event of second wave

by Costanza Pearce
19 June 2020

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GP practices may need to stop delivering routine services if there are further spikes in coronavirus cases, NHS England’s medical director for primary care has said.

Dr Nikki Kanani told GPs that they will need to be ‘agile’ with starting and stopping services as cases fluctuate during the pandemic.

Previously, GPs were told they should base decisions on which routine work to resume ‘primarily’ on ‘clinical need’ and capacity, as well as on when it is ‘safe’ to do so.

In the latest GP webinar, Dr Kanani reiterated that NHS England will support practices to make ‘a clinically-based decision about when it’s safe to resume’ services.

She referenced the latest standard operating procedures for general practice, which say that ‘practices should now be offering routine care as usual, wherever safe, making use of virtual options wherever that is possible’.

Practices should consider ‘a whole range of things’ such as staff capacity, local activity levels, the number of staff isolating, PPE availability and whether there is a ‘local outbreak’ of coronavirus, Dr Kanani added.

However, she said: ‘We may face a further outbreak so we need to be able to be quite agile about what we start and stop.’

Meanwhile, she added that NHS England is ‘not trying to rush [practices] to resume everything’ because that would not be ‘appropriate’.

Last month, Dr Kanani told GPs to base decisions on which routine work to resume ‘primarily’ on ‘clinical need’ and capacity, building on her previous advice that practices should resume routine work only if it can be done ‘safely’.

Meanwhile, practices were told to assess where urgent and routine treatment has been delayed and ‘focus’ on resuming chronic disease treatment and prevention in the latest GP standard operating procedures.

GPs were first advised to resume the delivery of ‘routine and preventative work’ including screening in April.

It comes as Management in Practice’s sister publication, Pulse, revealed last week that London primary care networks (PCNs) have predicted the restoration of GP services after the pandemic will raise the cost of care to each patient by up to 20%.