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14.07.20

RCGP: Comprehensive plan for handling winter pressures ‘vital’

With annual winter pressures and a potential second wave of the coronavirus risking coinciding, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has called for the establishing of a comprehensive plan of action.

Across the NHS, according to a report by the Academy of Medical Sciences, preparations are being made for a particularly challenging winter period, with healthcare professionals up and down the country likely to face vast numbers of patients suffering from flue and other common winter illnesses, as well as the potential risk of further increased Covid-19 cases.

Chair of the RCGP, Professor Martin Marshall, said: ““Winter is always a busy time for general practice, as it is across the NHS, as GPs and our teams deal with many patients suffering from flu and other common winter illnesses in the community. A second wave of Covid-19, on top of these challenges, would put the NHS under considerable pressure, so it’s sensible to look at potential worst case scenarios, as this report does, so that we can plan and put mitigating measures in place.

“The College has been advocating for comprehensive planning to ensure the UK is prepared for a potential second wave or local peaks of the Covid-19 virus. We recently co-signed a letter with other medical organisations calling for a rapid forward-thinking review to reflect on our initial response and using learnings from this to plan for the future.

“We need to recognise that a second wave of Covid-19, during the time when the NHS is busiest, will be incredibly disruptive for all sectors of the health service, and for patients at any stage of illness. Amongst other things, we need to ensure that the NHS is prepared to protect our most vulnerable patients and staff; that procurement and supply of appropriate PPE is secured; and that communication channels between national and local NHS services are optimal and resources are distributed where they are most needed.

“GPs and our teams have shown during this pandemic that we can be flexible and quickly change the way we do things in order to keep our patients safe, and play our part in tackling the virus. We will do what is necessary, in the best interests of patient care, but we need to know what the plans are and have the appropriate guidance and resources to swiftly respond to a second wave of the virus, mitigating its potential severity and helping to keep patients and their wider communities safe.”

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