MESSAGE FROM DR NICOLA JONES: Latest coronavirus information

Update from Dr Nicola Jones,
Chair of the South West London Primary Care Cell

6th April 2020

Dear colleagues

We have good news on staff testing today. Please see the information below and the attached documentation which explains the process. The one page diagram entitled “primary care flow chart” gives a quick view of the process with the other documents explaining the detail.

Easter is only a few days away and general practice has been asked nationally to operate like a normal weekday instead of adopting Bank Holiday Friday and Monday arrangements. This will really help to ensure that patients have access to the care they need at a time when case numbers of COVID19 are escalating in the community. Thanks for playing your extremely crucial part in this – patients in South West London will be well served and all the safer for your commitment to their care.

Dr Nicola Jones
Clinical Lead, SWL Primary Care

Staff Testing

We are increasing staff testing capacity in South West London, in line with national policy. The new NHS staff testing process for SW London is explained in full in the attachments, including a specific flowchart for general practice.

From tomorrow morning the GP practice SitRep form, which is being e-mailed to practices each day by the SWL team, will include a link allowing practices to provide specific information about which front line clinicians or members of their household have symptoms. If front line clinicians or members of their household are symptomatic the practice will then be informed whether testing will take place the following day. It is possible that there will not initially be enough testing capacity for everyone and practices will be asked to prioritise who they will put forward. We will be building capacity as quickly as possible.

We recognise that testing is a very important issue across SW London and we are doing our best to respond locally to the need for more staff testing, in line with national policy. We appreciate your patience in this rapidly evolving situation.

Who is eligible for testing?

  • Front line primary care clinicians who are symptomatic
  • Member of the front line primary care clinician’s household, if the member of the household is symptomatic

How long do the results take?

Results will be texted to the mobile number of the person being tested within 72 hours of the test.

Easter Arrangements for General Practice

You will be aware from the NHSE/I GP Preparedness update letter of 27th March 2020 that the GP contract is being amended to identify Good Friday and Easter Bank Holiday Monday this year as normal working days for general practice.  This is so the NHS can ensure that all areas of the service are aligned and can manage the increased demand together.

What does this mean for GP practices?

Practices should treat Good Friday and Easter Monday as normal working days providing essential services 8am to 6.30pm, managing non COVID-19 patients themselves using the total triage model that has already been operationalised.  Practices should use the referral pathways into their local respiratory pathway / COVID-19 pathway arrangements for known or suspected COVID-19 patients.

Practices should also be reviewing business continuity plans to ensure they are robust. In the event that a practice is unable to operate in its usual stand-alone state and has to move to a buddying or PCN delivery model for essential services please alert the local place Primary Care team or SWL team at swlhcp.swlprimarycare@nhs.net to inform them so that the team is aware and can support if needed. This applies to the Monday and Friday Easter days as well as on other normal working days.

We’d like to thank everyone in primary care again. We know you are working incredibly hard to maintain services for patients and respond to increasing demands during the pandemic.

Attachments

  1. Primary Care Flow Chart
  2. Staff testing process
  3. SWL Policy for Staff Testing for COVID-19

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