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GP reception staff advised on steps to take for patients requiring Covid antivirals

by Beth Gault
16 January 2023

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NHS England has reminded GP practice teams of the procedure to follow when patients contact them needing to access Covid antiviral treatments, in a newly published factsheet.

If a patient eligible for antivirals calls the practice to say they have tested positive for Covid and have reported it, but haven’t heard from anyone about treatment, reception staff must arrange an urgent appointment with a member of the clinical team, the fact sheet, clarifies.

It comes as latest ONS figures show that Covid infections continued to increase in England and Scotland and increased in Wales in the week ending 28 December 2022. It’s estimated that one in 20 people living in private households in England tested positive.

Those eligible for antivirals are those most at risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid-19, including some patients with cancer, blood conditions, kidney disease, liver disease and autoimmune conditions.

The process they are asked to follow when they test positive is to report the lateral flow test result through the government website or 119 and then wait 24 hours to be contacted for treatment by Covid-19 Medicine Delivery Unit (CMDU).

However, if a patient does not receive any contact within 24 hours, they are then advised to call their GP practice. Staff should arrange an urgent appointment with the clinical team, who should refer the patient to the CMDU using the electronic referral service or other locally agreed system.

Reception staff should not refer patients to 119 for assessment or treatment ­– referral to a CMDU must be done by a GP team, NHS England has stressed.

NHS England said this guidance was ‘to help GP teams and reception staff deal with queries from patients on treatments for Covid-19’ and should ‘help ensure that potentially eligible patients receive an urgent triage call or review with the practice clinical team and, where appropriate, a referral to a Covid-19 Medicine Delivery Unit.’

It urged practices to share and print the factsheet for reception staff, so they are familiar with the process to follow.