MESSAGE FROM DR NICOLA JONES: Latest coronavirus information

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

7th May 2020

Dear Colleagues

On the eve of a working bank holiday, I’d like to offer my thanks once again for the responsiveness you have demonstrated in recent weeks. It has been so important for GPs to remain on high alert, assessing suspected COVID-19 cases, whilst refining and embedding the many changes that you have implemented, in order to manage patients remotely.  And all this in an environment in which our staff and colleagues are justifiably anxious about their own wellbeing and that of their families. The versatility and resilience of general practice will be tested again as we contemplate what the impact of an ease in the lockdown will bring. In your local borough, clinical leaders and primary care teams are looking to actively engage you in the next stage of recovery as we encourage you to consider how to best meet the needs of patients in the coming weeks.

Best Wishes
Dr Nicola Jones
Clinical Lead, SWL Primary Care

8th May Bank Holiday

We’d like to thank you for your fantastic work in supporting the urgent care system by ensuring patient access to services on the Bank Holiday.

We received a 100% response to the form regarding working arrangements for the day so thank you to all practices for your responses.


Practices will have received a message stating that South West London Pathology will not be carrying out any additional sample collections on the May bank holidays (8 and 25 May) due to a lack of available couriers. They will be operating a standard Sunday and bank holiday service.

However, as per normal bank holidays, urgent samples can be dropped off at your nearest acute lab.


All practices using DoctorLink for online consultations should be aware the system will follow the business as usual model for Bank Holiday Friday. This means that patients will be able to access the symptom assessment and get same day access to the practice via DoctorLink as they would on any other working day.

Connected practices:

The practice should make appointments available for patients to book via the symptom assessment tool if their disposition states that a same day GP appointment is appropriate. These can be configured for telephone and video slots in the normal way. If there are no appointments available then an email will be generated to the practice nominated email address and this should be actioned as on a normal working day. The nominated inbox should be monitored regularly throughout the day as normal.

Unconnected practices:

An email will be generated to the practice nominated email address and should be actioned as on a normal working day. The nominated inbox should be monitored regularly throughout the day as normal.

DoctorLink Support-

Support for shielding & non-shielding patients

A pack has been published to help general practice deal with queries from both shielding and non-shielding patients about support over and above the care and treatment they are receiving for their medical condition. It collates both NHS and government information to support practices with this.

Shielding patients – information from NHSE/I

We have been asked to pass on the below information from NHSE/I. Practices are being asked to ensure they have sent the shielding letter (latest version attached) for patients who practices themselves identified as clinically extremely vulnerable (not the patients who were identified centrally and written to centrally). There was a similar message in the latest national primary care bulletin.

Information from NHSE/I

  • The latest update of the Shielded Patient List, based on the NHS Digital GP Extraction Service, has identified a small number of patients who will be advised to shield via a centrally generated letter and text message.  Flags will be added to the GP records for these patients along with patients identified by hospital clinicians this week.  The addition of flags and distribution of central letters is expected to be complete by Thursday 7 May.  You may also receive information relating to this from your system supplier.
  • Any patients you locally identified as clinically extremely vulnerable prior to 28 April should now be recognised by the Government support website.  Thank you for informing all of these patients, using the standard letter previously provided.  If you have not done so, please ensure that you write to these patients as soon as possible using the most recent version of the letter (attached) which confirms that the Government is currently advising people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to shield until 30 June, subject to ongoing review. People who you have identified locally and added to the registry will be sent text messages later this week and contacted early next week by the Government support service call centre if they have not yet registered online or by phone.  It is therefore important that you have contacted them to confirm that they have been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable. 
  • For people who believe they have registered for support on the Government support website and have not received it, please advise them to re-register ensuring they have entered the correct NHS number on the website and their name and address as used in their NHS records. 

Risk assessments for staff

We are aware that work is currently being done on a national risk assessment tool for employers, relating to COVID-19. We will send details of this to you when we have them. In the meantime practices are reminded of the need to risk assess staff to identify those at increased risk from COVID-19, as per the standard operating procedure for general practice. While parts of it may seem more relevant to hospital employers, practices may find this guidance from NHS Employers helpful.

Practices are also reminded to follow the guidance in Appendix 8 of the standard operating procedure for general practice regarding staff who have symptoms, are exposed to someone with symptoms, and who have to shield.

Death verification

The Department of Health & Social Care has now published guidance on verifying death in times of emergency. The guidance is designed to clarify existing practice for the verification of death outside of hospitals and to provide a framework for safe verification of death in this coronavirus emergency period.

Please also see the joint statement from the CQC, GMC and Health Improvement Scotland which provides information about completion of the medical certificate of cause of death.

Mobile and broadband enhancements for NHS staff

As per the attached document, mobile and broadband service providers have agreed to provide personal mobile data and broadband enhancements to identified frontline NHS staff, who are existing customers.

For more information about the offers, eligibility criteria and process for claiming, refer to the Personal Data and Broadband Enhancements for NHS Workers website or if you have any additional questions you can contact


A reminder that the local route that we have described in previous updates for reporting symptoms and accessing tests continues to be in place, and gives priority for clinicians and practice staff.  As normal, during the week practices can access the reporting link through the daily SitRep form and access the testing reporting form directly at weekends and on the Bank Holiday. Locums can also report directly using the form.

IT & digital support webinar

A reminder that SWL CCG is hosting a weekly IT & digital support webinar every Tuesday from 12-1 for the next 5 weeks for all clinical and non-clinical staff to access.

Next week the first part of the session will be focussed on the Clarity GP TeamNet communications portal and Total Triage including online consultations, and the second part will be an open Q&A.

Please see the details below if you would like to join for the session next week:

Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
Dial in No. 0203 880 0300
Conference ID: 955 038 464#

We ask that practices submit queries that you would like to cover in the session by midday on the Monday prior to the meeting to Zahraa Goolja –

We have set out some guidance below for all participants to follow to ensure that the sessions run smoothly and everyone gets a chance to have their queries answered. We would ask that all participants read and adhere to the guidance.

  • Submit any questions or queries beforehand by Midday on the Monday prior to the session you are joining
  • Keep your microphone on mute during the session
  • If you have questions that arise during the session then please raise them using the chat function

If you would like to speak or comment during the session please raise your hand using the raise hand button and the host will take these in turn


  1. Mobile Broadband
  2. At Risk patient letter CEV1 Final

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