The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has stressed the importance of GPs having rapid access to testing results for patients, as newly-released research highlights the role general practice is playing during the coronavirus pandemic.
Released by Queen Mary University of London, and published in the British Journal of General Practice, the research showed GPs and their teams were continuing to deliver frontline care to NHS patients with both Covid and non-Covid conditions.
The active role of GPs in the Covid-19 response is nothing new or surprising, though notably the Queen Mary research focused in heavily on ‘suspected’ cases of Covid, due to limited community testing throughout the pandemic, giving a clearer picture of the primary patient group using general practice services.
Responding to the research, Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the RCGP, said: “This data shows the significant role GPs and our teams have played in tackling Covid-19 and delivering care to patients during the pandemic – and how the virus has impacted on all parts of the health and care services.
“General practice has been open throughout the pandemic with GPs and our teams continuing to deliver the vast majority of NHS patient care to patients with both Covid and non-Covid conditions.
“GPs and our teams will continue to be on the frontline of managing the effects of the Covid-19 virus in the community and access to high quality data will be essential as we approach a busy winter season and prepare for a potential risk of a second wave of the virus.
“What’s notable is that this research is mostly looking at ‘suspected’ cases of Covid, because of the lack of testing at a community level throughout the pandemic, particularly towards the start. To ensure we have a good understanding of the virus at a community level and help us to give patients the care they need, it is essential that GPs have rapid access to testing results for patients – and that as newer, quicker tests for Covid-19 are available, GPs and our teams have access to them when necessary and appropriate.
“These findings also highlight the high prevalence of suspected Covid-19 in patients from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities (BAME). This is something we need to urgently understand and address. The College has recently written to the Minister for Equalities calling for an update on the implementation of recommendations made in the Fenton report earlier this summer.
“Specifically, we want to know what progress has been made in developing risk assessment tools for BAME staff across the NHS to ensure they are safe to work and feel confident in doing so; and for public health campaigns to be more effectively targeted to people from BAME communities.”