Since the 29 January 2020, the College has issued a series of updates to you regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) which we hope have proved helpful and informative. Updates emerge following regular meetings of the HSE Clinical Advisory GP Communications Group. This group includes representatives from the College, IMO, HSE and Out of Hours Services. These meetings are essential as they provide a platform to bring concerns and queries from General Practice to the experts.

Algorithm

One of the outcomes of these meetings has been the agreed algorithm –  risk assessment for patients presenting to general practice and healthcare settings (other than receiving hospitals), which is updated daily, when required.

Clinical Hub

We will continue to provide information to you on the College’s Clinical Hub. This is a fast moving and changing situation and therefore it is very important that you access this information daily to note any changes.

Public Messaging

As you are aware, the key to stopping the spread of the virus continues to be regular hand washing and covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or the bend of your elbow when coughing and sneezing to prevent the spread of infection.

In all our engagement with the media, we are constantly re-enforcing this message to the general public, reiterating the information provided by the HSE including Protect Yourself.

Other sensible actions to adopt, both in public and in your practice, is to no longer shake hands. I think this is becoming the sensible norm as we all do everything within our power to curtail the spread of the virus.

Advice not to attend GP surgery

In addition, and also being re-enforced in all our messaging is reminding the public that any patient who has been to /or has had contact with someone who has been to an affected area and has symptoms, including a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, should not go to the GP surgery, A&E department, Out-of-Hours Co-Ops but stay at home and call their GP or out-of-hours service instead. Those without a GP, or in an emergency should call 112 or 999.

The only patients you should receive calls from are from those who have been in infected areas, or indeed those that may be immunosuppressant or have a number of Chronic diseases and thus have health concerns. All other patients should be directed to www.hse.ie. Travel advice should be taken from Department of Foreign Affairs website.

Where a patient shows up with concerns about COVID19

However, If a patient who fits this criteria does arrive at a GP surgery, practice staff should place them in isolation, where possible, and then follow current infection control guidelines.

public statement has been issued to the media yesterday. We have also participated in a number of broadcasts both on radio and TV which conveyed key messages about COVID19 and also about the role of general practice. During events such as the current Coronavirus situation, additional pressures are being placed on GPs and practice staff as frontline workers through increased patient attendance to the practice, responding to fear and anxiety amidst the community and staying up to date as the situation evolves.

It is important during such times that GPs and practice staff take time to care for themselves and take the opportunity to debrief with colleagues.

We will continue to update and support members in every way possible during these challenging times.

Dr Mary Favier,                                                           Dr John Cox,
President                                                                     Chair