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Coronavirus: GPs prepare for NHS's 'biggest crisis'

As coronavirus spreads widely across the UK, many of those who fall sick may seek treatment at their GP's surgery. But are family doctors ready to deal with a wave of patients, prevent the spread of the disease and protect the most vulnerable?

"This is a massive crisis, probably the biggest crisis the NHS has ever had to face," says Prof Martin Marshall, an east London GP who is also chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners' council.

He says not enough has been done yet to prepare family doctors for the epidemic, although he adds: "We need to be a little bit understanding of the pressures that the whole system is under."

As the virus circulates in the community, he says we need "urgent action" to protect healthcare workers, give them the information they need and provide technology to allow for more consultations by phone or the internet.

Given the pressures the NHS will be under, Prof Marshall says it is vital that doctors and nurses are not taken out of action for seven days of isolation unnecessarily.

"We're not saying that health professionals are more important than patients, we're saying that health professionals have a responsibility," he says.

"We therefore need to keep them as healthy as possible and we need to get them back into the workforce as quickly as possible. So we're asking that health professionals are tested early."

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Source: BBC News, 16 March 2020




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