This site is intended for health professionals only

GP practices suffer Covid outbreaks causing closures and disruption

by Awil Mohamoud
13 November 2020

Share this article

A number of GP practices across the country have had to temporarily close, following Covid-19 outbreaks.  

The New Surgery in Kent, announced a two-week closure yesterday (12 November), after eight members of staff tested positive for the virus. Their uninfected colleagues have also had to self-isolate.

The practice said it will have to provide ‘a much-reduced number of telephone appointments’, as staffing capacity is now a quarter of what it usually is.

A Covid-19 outbreak at West Malling Group Practice, also in Kent, has led to 24 staff members going into isolation, according to a statement posted this week by the local council. It added that some patient services ‘may not be available in the next 14 days’, as a result, though the practice remains open. 

Last week, another practice in England had to temporarily close. A spokesperson for NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) told Management in Practice: ‘We can confirm that six members of staff at Cradley Surgery in Herefordshire have tested positive for Covid-19. 

‘As a precaution all staff have been tested and a number are self-isolating for 14 days and due to this the practice will remain closed until further notice. No patients have been identified as having contact with the staff affected.’

It added that the practice is making alternative arrangements for patients who have already booked appointments or need their medicines.

In Burton, both Trent Meadows Medical Practice sites closed for two days at the beginning of November, due to staff testing positive for Covid. Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit told Management in Practice that the practice remained available for remote access, and was able to reopen for face-to-face appointments on 4 November. It did not say how many staff were infected. 

North Glen Medical Practice, in Fife, Scotland, saw ‘a number of practice staff’ forced into isolation, after contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19, according to NHS Fife. It said the practice remains open, but a small number of appointments have been cancelled, and fewer than five patients have been asked to also self-isolate as a precaution.

‘Very rare’

Dr Steve Mowle of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) told Management in Practice: ‘As far as we are aware, suspected Covid outbreaks in GP practices have been very rare and where this has happened, every effort will have been taken to make alternative arrangements, including working with nearby practices if appropriate.’

He added that the availability of remote consultations means that, ‘in many cases’, GPs can carry on working while they are self-isolating if they are well enough.

‘Reducing the spread of the Covid virus is a priority in general practice. Any GP practice which, unfortunately, experiences a Covid outbreak is right to close. Staff must self-isolate and patients who may have come into contact with the virus must be traced, whether they’re experiencing symptoms or not. GPs and our teams must not be criticised for doing what is right to protect the public’s health.’