Starting or returning to work as a GP? Ask this first

by Paula Wright

Whether you’re starting a new role in general practice or returning after a break, Paula Wright lists the questions you’ll need answers to

Location: UK
Published: Thursday 2 July 2020

Returning to work after a long break is always a challenge, but doing so in the era of COVID-19 brings with it new concerns.

How will your personal safety be protected? Will you have the tools necessary to complete both face-to-face and remote work? How have processes changed?

Whether joining a new practice or going back to an old one, you should ask your new employer for an induction document ahead of your first session as processes have changed significantly.

Patients brought in for a face-to-face review should be screened for COVID-19 symptoms in advance of attending the surgery by whoever invites them in, and by reception staff on arrival. Patients should continue to attend their scheduled appointment time and rebooked if they are late (according to local practice policy.)

That precaution notwithstanding, it’s best to make sure that you get answers to the following COVID related questions:

Face-to-face work

  • What provision is made for face-to-face assessments for patients who require examination to support their management? For example, are they added to the end of the telephone surgery, or are there discrete bookable appointments? Does each practice based doctor see their own previously telephoned patients? As a locum will you be offering the same working pattern or something different? Will you be seeing patients face to face or only offering remote consulting? Where are the designated areas in the building for ‘hot’ consulting (including separate entrances, waiting areas and patient toilets and consulting rooms)?
  • If there are none, is this done at PCN (primary care network) level?
  • Where are the designated areas in the PCN for hot consulting, and what are the referral criteria for this?
  • Where are the cleaning products and PPE kept in this building?
  • How is the hot visiting service accessed, and what are its eligibility criteria?

Remote work

  • What tool is used for video/online consulting?
  • Will I be provided with a personal login for this in time for my first shift? How is this organised?
  • Will I be physically based in the practice, or is hardware/software available for the work to be conducted off-site? If so, how is this accessed?

For further support, call a BMA adviser or contact the sessional GPs committee at [email protected]