The future of GP covid centres
There is no hidden plan.
These have served an important purpose and role in the Covid response. All the rotas are starting to reduce as cases and referrals go down. There is full local flexibility and autonomy to staff the centres according to the demand and we do not want GPs to be in a centre that is not busy when their own practice is busy.
We will not formally stand them down until we are sure that the Covid situation has passed, as if they are needed again it will be extremely difficult to start them again from scratch.
The overriding feedback we have received has been that the ability to separate Covid and suspected Covid patients from other patients, and to keep our practices clean and our GP’s safe with impeccable infection control measures has been invaluable. We have not had any widespread reports of GP’s or staff sickness or of practice closures which is hugely encouraging.
The Covid response has nothing to do with OOH or any future arrangements for OOH, and it has not been part of any discussion or plan at any time.
You will all be familiar with the recent announcement by the Health Minister about the need to reset services across the HSC and not to simply restart them as they were pre-Covid.
This is very much about getting better services and better access for our patients and Primary Care will clearly be integrally involved in this. We will be fully involved in these discussions to ensure that any changes are planned, agreed and resourced. This will not involve a new contract or significant contract change.
A model of an urgent care centre is likely to become part of these plans, but these will be staffed by secondary care colleagues and not by GP’s.
Finally, thank you to everyone who completed our recent survey. The results are now being analysed.
Alan Stout, NIGPC chair