England Doctor General practitioner Consultant

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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

We have compiled guidance and information sources for doctors on the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Please check official PHE guidance and nation-specific guidance to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.

 

This page sets out:

 

If a patient wants more information about the Coronavirus

Guidance on the situation in the UK, including information about the virus, advice for travellers from Wuhan and the action taken to date, is available from the DHSC and PHE. This advice is being updated on a daily basis.

Coronavirus: latest information and advice

 

PHE advice for travellers to the UK

PHE advise that travellers who have returned from Wuhan and Hubei Province areas in the last 14 days should:

  • stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as with other infections
  • Call NHS 111 to avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu
  • in Scotland follow advice from Health Protection Scotland
  • in Wales phone 111/NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47
  • in Northern Ireland phone 0300 200 7885 if they have no symptoms but want general advice. Patients with symptoms should stay at home and contact their GP by telephone. 

Patients are asked to follow this advice even if they do not have symptoms of the virus.

Travellers who have returned from other parts of mainland China and other specified countries in the last 14 days are advised to follow this advice if they develop symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath, even if the symptoms are minor.

 

If a patient presents at a practice

PHE states that the main principles are to:

  • identify potential cases as soon as possible
  • prevent potential transmission of infection to other patients and staff
  • avoid direct physical contact, including physical examination, and exposures to respiratory secretions
  • isolate the patient in a room, obtain specialist advice and determine if the patient is at risk of COVID-19.

 

If you suspect COVID-19 during a consultation

An unwell patient with a relevant travel history should be identified when they book in at reception and immediately placed in a room away from other patients and staff. 

Public Health England guidance says if COVID-19 becomes a possible diagnosis once a consultation is already in progress, you should:

  • Withdraw from the room, sensitively explaining to the patient why this is necessary.
  • Leave the patient in the room with the door closed.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Belongings and waste should remain in the room.
  • Advise others not to enter the room.
  • If entry to the room or contact with the patient is unavoidable in an emergency, wear PPE (personal protective equipment) in line with the standard infection control precautions, such as gloves apron and FRSM (fluid resistant surgical mask) and keep exposure to a minimum. All PPE should be disposed of as clinical waste. 
  • Should the patient need to use the toilet, they should be allocated a WC for their sole use. Instruct the patient to wash their hands thoroughly after toileting, and return directly to the room they have been isolated in and close the door. The toilet should be taken out of use until cleaned and disinfected following the decontamination guidance.
  • Ask the patient to call NHS 111 from their room, or their mobile (use GP surgery landline if mobile unavailable). 

When a telephone interview is being conducted with a patient located elsewhere (for example at home) and it is determined that Covid-19 is possible, then a face to face assessment in primary care must be avoided.

Instead call the local secondary care infection specialist to discuss safe assessment, if hospital care is being considered, if not refer to NHS 111.

For more information, guidance on environmental cleaning after a possible case and on patient transfers read the full PHE interim guidance for primary care.

 

If I come into contact with a suspected case, should I continue to see other patients?

The guidance for healthcare workers covers those who have travelled or have come into contact with a known case. However, if primary care providers come into contact (using the definition of close contact here) with a suspected case they should continue to practise as normal. Should the case then be confirmed, PHE will undertake contact tracing which may include the practitioner.

For more information for primary care providers in England, read the full NHS England guidance

 

Sharing information about preparedness of your practice (England only)

CCGs (on behalf of NHSEI) are asking GP practices in England for information about their preparation for coronavirus.

You do not have to provide this information unless the Secretary of State issues a direction. However, we encourage you to respond so that NHSEI and PHE are aware of preparations across England.

The BMA has written to the Secretary of State offering the support of the profession in tackling the virus.

 

Practice action cards

The BMA and RCGP have worked together to produce action cards for practices across the UK, to help them support them in responding to Covid-19. 

These can be accessed through the RCGP website

 

Posters

A series of posters have been produced for use in GP surgeries across the UK.

England

Wales

Northern Ireland

Scotland

 

Discussion on Coronavirus

Hear from BMA council vice chair David Wrigley and BMA emergency preparedness lead GP Peter Holden.

 

Further information

  • Guidance from PHE and DHSC is updated regularly and covers a range of topics.
  • Guidance from NHS England for healthcare professionals has also been published.
  • WHO publishes information and guidance on the outbreak of COVID-19.
  • Read news stories and see a list of resources from the BMJ.