GP practices have been told ‘restore routine services’ that were paused to support the accelerated Covid booster campaign.
NHS England requested practices prioritise three key areas for the period up to 31 March, including the continued delivery of general practice services.
In a letter sent to practices (27 January), it said that priorities should include access for urgent care with clinical prioritisation, annual health checks for vulnerable patients, suspected cancer, and management of long-term conditions.
This should also include ‘tackling the backlog of deferred care events’.
Practices have also been reminded to agree with their commissioner a plan that sets out how QOF-related care will be delivered ‘wherever possible’, adding that it should take a ‘clinical prioritisation approach’ to minimise any health inequalities.
Additionally, NHSE said that BMA and RCGP guidance instructing practices to ‘reassure the public that general practice remains open and that patients will be seen face to face where it is clinically appropriate’ remains in place.
NHSE has also asked practices to prioritise the management of symptomatic Covid-19 patients in the community alongside the ongoing delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine programme.
It said that managing these patients should include supporting, monitoring and providing access to therapeutics as part of the ‘local system approach’.
The letter confirmed that practices vaccinated 6.8 million people in December: more than half (53%) of all boosters delivered during the booster drive.
In December, practices were informed that some patients told to contact GP practices for Covid treatments if they are eligible for Covid treatments but have not been automatically informed by the NHS.
The latest update from NHSE also asked that PCN groupings focus on reaching the most vulnerable people with the continued Covid vaccine campaign, minimising any inequalities in uptake.
It asked that they undertake ‘further outreach activity to the unvaccinated or hesitant’.
Data published last week revealed that Covid booster uptake is as low as a third among some minority communities.
Earlier this month, the JCVI suggested there is ‘no immediate need’ to introduce a second booster dose.
It comes as the deadline for patient-facing NHS staff to receive their mandatory first vaccine dose approaches, with the Government stating the policy is to be kept ‘under review’.
Category => Covid-19
Category => News