From mid-March the NHS was under pressure to accommodate incredible numbers of patients exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19, which meant reducing a number of medical services they could perform, including elective surgeries. These measures have shown an incredible adaptability from the NHS coupled with great success in the face of a crisis.
Hospitals and primary care facilities saw a dramatic decrease in patients coming for less urgent issues from this period and many services were offered via remote telemedicine instead. The NHSEI has announced to all NHS organisations that they can expect to see fewer COVID-19 cases and can start readjusting back to pre-COVID-19 functionality. To make sure you and your facility or trust are prepared for the changes, we have put together three things you need to be aware of in the coming weeks to prepare for a return to pre-pandemic operations.
1. The reopening of primary care
Primary care is set to reopen in June; this means many surgeries and facilities will have to adapt from telemedicine back to face-to-face appointments. This means having the right number or permanent and locum GPs in place to manage what will, predictably, be a large influx of patients. Given the sharp decrease in cancer referrals and other potentially life-threatening illnesses, making sure as many patients as possible are seen will be a number one priority to make sure no one falls through the gap in this time. Supporting nurses and administrative staff will also need to be sourced well in advance to make sure that there is no delay in seeing patients at this time.
2. Protection for staff
Although the number of confirmed Coronavirus cases continues to fall in the UK and is predicted to fall further still, medical healthcare professionals should still be vigilant about the spread of the virus. This means sharing educational material, providing testing and making sure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is still readily available.
NHSEI has recognised that many healthcare professionals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are being highly affected by the virus and encourages all healthcare employers to risk assess staff who are possibly at a higher risk and provide testing. Great strides have also been undertaken to roll out testing for asymptomatic staff too.
3. Staffing capability transparency and adaptability
NHSEI has made it clear that facilities need to retain their emergency measures just in case there is a second wave of COVID-19 cases. This means that all facilities need to make predictions of the activity volumes they are expecting over the coming months. In order to be fully prepared for a possible resurgence of the virus after lockdown measures are lifted, primary care facilities and acute care alike are being asked to provide their staffing requirements beyond June in preparation.
To make sure your facility or trust is ready for the reopening of primary care services this summer, having an outline of your staffing requirements is key. If you have any concerns about meeting these requirements, our team of medical staffing professionals have been matching GPs, nurses and allied health professionals with NHS hospitals, trusts and local authorities across the country for more than 15 years. They are quickly able to fill rotas adhering to framework compliance and costings in hard-to-fill geographical placements, at short notice or out of hours, and in block bookings.