Male doctor examining a young patient

Lockdown messaging must be careful not to discourage patients

The Chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has issued a clear warning that any messaging used to encourage people to follow new national lockdown measures in England cannot mirror the ‘stay at home’ or ‘protect the NHS’ slogans of the first lockdown, for fear it might once again encourage patients to avoid attending necessary GP appointments.

It is vitally important, faced with a second wave of Covid-19 infections, measures are taken to protect patients, staff and the health service’s functionality, but it does remain open to all patients requiring treatment – both for Covid and non-Covid conditions.

General practice is no different, with GP surgeries around the country open as normal during the national lockdown. Some services may be delivered differently, and there may be more rigid procedures in place to protect staff and ensure minimal unnecessary contacts between patients, but if patients are sick, they are still urged to continue accessing health services as normal.

GPs are utilising new technologies, with most general practice services being delivered remotely, by phone or video, to help manage infection control and the safety of all.

However, where necessary, face-to-face appointments continue as well – with more than 400,000 consultations still taking place in this way each day.

To assist in informing the public about this, the College has produced downloadable resources for GP practices across the UK to support GPs to get the message out to patients about general practice being open, and how they can expect care to be delivered. These have been designed to be easily shareable on practice websites, social media or any other channels.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of RCGP, said: ““General practice has remained open throughout the pandemic - and now we’re in a second lockdown, that isn’t changing.

“GPs have worked incredibly hard, swiftly transforming their services to continue delivering safe and accessible care to patients in the most challenging of circumstances.

“We do not want slogans such as ‘stay at home’ or ‘protect the NHS’ to deter patients from seeking medical care, if they need it. We do not want to see patients hesitant to access our services, and in doing so potentially missing out on vital care.

“Lockdown is going to be tough for people. It will potentially have an impact on their physical and mental health.

“We hope our resources help GPs get the message out to patients that general practice services are available, albeit delivered differently than usual. GPs and our teams are currently delivering more consultations than we were before the pandemic, and delivering the largest and most complicated flu vaccination programme ever - but if patients are sick, or if they have potential signs of serious illness such as cancer, they should contact their GP or NHS 111, or in an emergency call 999.”

NHE July/August 21

NHE July/August 21

Prioritising staff wellbeing

NHE’s July/August 2021 edition focuses on some of the key, defining aspects of a successful, supported health service: Mental Health & Workforce. Elsewhere, we take on the incredibly topical Infection Prevention and address the role which Pharma will play in both our NHS and wider health environment.

Videos...

View all videos
National Health Executive Presents

National Health Executive Presents

NHE365 Virtual Festival: Net-Zero NHS

As was outlined by Sir Simon Stevens when the NHS announced their green plans back in 2020, 5,700 lives could be saved each year by improved air quality. Even more could see their overall health improve and be in a position to self-manage their conditions, rather than requiring NHS treatment. Covid-19 has already left the NHS with a sizeable treatment backlog, so anything which can be done to improve patient health and reduce demand is beneficial for all.

Working together, we can help the NHS realise its green ambitions as per the Net-Zero National Health Service report and its ambitious 2040 target. Join us on August 25, 2021 for our Net-Zero NHS event, where we will be joined by health sector leaders and innovators for a day of sharing best practice and networking.

Finger on the Pulse

Ep 14. Health messaging is a science, Professor Craig Jackson

On Episode 14 of NHE's Finger on the Pulse podcast, we're joined by Professor Craig Jackson, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology
Birmingham City University to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the health messaging around it and how those in power have missed a trick by overlooking the key role of psychology in informing the public of restrictions, measures and the ever-changing situation

More articles...

View all