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Postpone all non-essential paperwork, RCGP and BMA advise

by Jess Hacker
22 December 2021

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Practices may consider postponing all non-essential paperwork to make time for the Covid booster programme, the RCGP and BMA’s new prioritisation guidance has said.

This includes pausing DVLA medicals for non-essential workers unless urgent, insurance reports, and the friends and family test.

It also includes stopping private to NHS prescription changes as these can be done in pharmacies, and hospital outpatients prescriptions which should be managed in secondary care.

Essential paperwork should continue, however, including registering new patients, reviewing and filing test results, medication reconciliation and DVLA requests for medical information for licensing for essential workers, the guidance says.

The advice is intended to help practices manage their workload as the accelerated booster campaign continues.

It sets out current clinical priorities, alongside activities practices should consider postponing or deprioritising. These include:

  • Routine non-urgent screening
  • All non-essential paperwork
  • Data collection requests
  • Blood monitoring for lower-risk medications and conditions
  • Vitamin B12 injections
  • Routine care review or care management for those with LTCs, who are not considered ‘high risk’, as outlined above
  • Non-essential procedures
  • Complaints
  • Minor surgery
  • Non-urgent investigations that will not impact on treatment.

However, it that it is for ‘practices to determine how they best meet the needs of their patients’, but that the final decisions should take place in consultation with LMCs and CCGs.

Supporting staff

The most ‘significant limiting factor’ in managing workload is the lack of workforce in general practice, the RCGP and BMA also said.

‘The current levels of demand in general practice require systems to offer as much support and additional workforce capacity as possible directly to general practice to manage,’ it said.

It suggested practice staff refer to the RCGP’s separate guidance (17 December) on systems to have in place to deal with staff absences.

BMA analysis earlier this week warned nearly 50,000 NHS staff could be off sick with Covid by Christmas.

Clinical priorities

The current priorities to sit alongside delivery of the Covid booster campaign, as outlined by the RCGP and BMA are:

  • Acutely unwell adults and children for urgent care
  • Contraceptive services
  • Childhood immunisations, postnatal checks and new baby checks
  • Flu vaccinations
  • Medication problems that cannot be dealt by community pharmacy or PCN pharmacist
  • Cancer or suspected cancer
  • Palliative care including anticipatory care and end of life conversations
  • Wound management/dressing
  • Acute home visits to housebound/residential or nursing home patients
  • Long term conditions management for those at higher risk
  • Mental health care
  • Cervical smear tests
  • Safeguarding
  • Essential injections
  • Essential paperwork
  • Med3 after a period self-certification.

On Friday, NHS England confirmed GP vaccination centres will be paid an enhanced fee of £20 per Covid shot between 25 December and 3 January, in a bid to support them to ‘set up additional clinics’.