Editorial Comment

Message to Government

Staff working in general practices are not privy to the normal NHS staff contracts. Some of them just get SSP if absent. GPs receive annual budgets that are not open ended and therefore if large numbers of reception and nursing staff are off and work due to the coronavirus and need to be covered, many Practices will start to encounter financial difficulties and be under threat of closure.
There is some confusion about the use of furlough leave. My reading of it is that staff would need to be laid off. What is the Government going to do to prevent this happening? Otherwise, it’s a case of what have you done today to make you feel proud!


Editorial Comment

Oh you are awful but I…

Oh, you are awful, but I ………..

A crisis is a time when there are sadly those that like to take advantage. I hear tales of employers telling staff to attend work despite symptoms. I here tales of employers trying to sack staff for being off work, self isolating. I hear tales of employers saying ‘there will be no bonus this year’. This is the world we live in. 

Now is the time for the Government, NHS England and the medics that run General Practice to start to take on board that General Practice is a ‘team effort’ and to get the most out of your staff, at a time of national crisis is to be fair and reasonable. Your staff need to be safe, and work in a controlled environment. You need to be aware that the doctors and other clinical staff are not the only ones under pressure. Front of the office staff are key to the smooth running of a Surgery. They are the first point of contact and arguably the ones at most risk from face to face contacts. 

There are two sides towards rewarding staff. There are those that pay well and there are Locums reaping the benefits of ridiculous daily rates, yet there are front of the office staff still on the minimum wage. Now is the time to wake up and start to pay staff above the National Living Wage. It is not the time to place an embargo on an April pay rise. But the Government, NHS England, CCGs and the BMA all have their part to play in this. Otherwise it’s a case of you are all awful and we don’t like you.

Let’s praise all of the good work being carried out in Practices who have suddenly had to wake up to using telephone conversations for consultations, for those who are getting to grips with video messaging, and online services. Lessons may be learned from all these dreadful experiences but most importantly we will survive. 


Editorial Comment

Coronavirus – What Do You Need to Know

Coronavirus – What Do You Need to Know

General Advice

The latest Government advice is to be found on this web site –

Worldwide Status

Information about the status of the virus worldwide can be found on this web site –

United Kingdom Status

Information on the current spread in the United Kingdom, which is updated daily can be found on this web site –

Hand washing Video

This is one of many videos available on the internet and uTube –

Posters from Public Health England

Robert Campbell 11 March 2020


Editorial Comment

Practice Viability Score

Is your Practice still viable? Are you getting approaches from other Practice to join forces? Are you experiencing problems engaging new doctors and replacing retirees? You may have a whole series of problems.

Here is a scoring system that may help you decide your next step. Are you going to survive. What do you need to put right? This scoring system based on a real experience may put you on the right track!


Editorial Comment

Coronavirus March 2020

Coronavirus – Preventative Steps

The most obvious and prominent advice being given from all quarters currently is to constantly and thoroughly wash your hands and encourage mask wearing for all face to face contacts as well as keeping your distance.

There may be some preventative measures that you have not considered. Take a look at this list.

a) Is there a dedicated Isolation Room in your surgery, which can be constantly cleaned rather than just placing people in the only empty room available?

b) Is there a generous supply of hand gel dispensers scattered about your surgery?

c) Are regular arrangements made for the cleaning of handrails, door handles, and for checking and cleaning toilets.

d) Do you have separate toilets for staff to use? 

e) Is there a regime of disinfecting telephone handsets?

f) Are there sufficient mobile telephones available if contact away from the surgery is necessary? 

g) Can the clinical system be used off site? If not, why not? It does seem that some Practices are more savvy on IT issues than others.

h) Can you instantly lock down surgery entrances to prevent access? 

i) Does the reception counter have a glass safety screen?

k) Can you immediately isolate patients with symptoms?

j) Are you encouraging patients to use online services for repeat prescriptions but not for appointments?

k) Do you provide either an online messaging service or email address for patients to use? 

l) Have you spaced reception seating at a social distance? 

J) Do you have an intercom system installed at your main surgery entrance?

K) Can Patients post a repeat prescription request using an external letterbox?

I am sure there are more ideas for preventative measures.

Revised 10 March 2020