GPs should refer patients who are eligible for Covid-19 treatment, but who have not been contacted centrally, directly to Covid-19 medicines delivery units (CMDUs), NHS England has said.
In new guidance (6 January) designed to help frontline services assess and monitor Covid-19 patients, NHSE reaffirmed that most patients eligible for treatment via a CMDU will be contacted directly.
However, practice teams ‘may also encounter patients who are in the highest risk group’ but have not been identified, such as if they are homeless or are not registered with a GP.
It said: ‘Therefore, if you are assessing a patient who is at highest risk, has not been contacted by a CMDU, and meets the criteria for referral below, you should refer to a CMDU via eRS.’
However, the ‘main message for everyone is that vaccination is key’, it added.
It comes after NHSE notified practices that some patients have been told to contact their surgery if they believe this has happened to them. It had also warned patient enquiries about Covid treatments may increase as a result.
Currently, new treatments for Covid-19 are available through the CMDUs for people aged 12 and over, who have tested positive, and who are at highest risk for serious illness ‘despite being vaccinated.
The treatments available are oral antiviral treatment (molnupiravir) and neutralising monoclonal antibodies (nMABs).
This includes some people who have:
- Down’s syndrome
- Rare conditions affecting the brain or nerves, including multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease or myasthenia gravis
- Sickle cell disease
- Some cancers
- HIV or AIDS
- A severe liver condition, such as cirrhosis
- Chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4 or 5
- Had an organ transplant
- Certain autoimmune or inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease
- A condition or treatment that makes them more vulnerable to infection
- Had certain types of chemotherapy in the past 12 months
- Had radiotherapy in the last 6 months.
NHSE England last month urged practices to identify and contact groups of patients who are not captured in NHS Digital national datasets and who will not be automatically contacted.