In moving to Level 2 there will be a further loosening of the restrictions that have been in place up until this point. What does that mean for general practice? COVID-19 will remain a possibility in the community until a vaccine is available and physical distancing is still the mainstay of controlling COVID. We have a duty of care to our communities, in particular the most vulnerable people like the elderly and those living with co-morbidity and in deprivation.
The principles of Level 2 remain the same as Level 3:
- We need to continue to reassure patients general practice is open for business.
- The first service to contact for community medical care is your general practice.
- Continue to offer virtual consultations to patients: telephone, video and in-person consultations as required.
- Ask yourself whether you will add significant value to the patient by an in-person consultation compared to a virtual consultation.
- In-person visits should be preceded by virtual triage or assessment.
- Maintain physical distancing procedures within the surgery. In particular, patients with respiratory symptoms need to be separated from non-respiratory within the practice, maintain one metre separation in waiting rooms.
- Scrupulous hand hygiene required.
- Maintain the use of PPE as appropriate.
- Investigations should be provided for acute and chronic medical care.
- Proactive care is important for patients with chronic disease.
- Equity is central to care with a focus on Maori, Pacific and vulnerable populations.
- Continue to increase the focus on long term management for those patients with chronic conditions.
- Continue to increase focus on elderly, children, and mental health.
- Core services should be established including preventive screening, immunisations, contraception services and acute care.
- Planning should be underway to undertake any deferred care that has occurred during lock-down.
- Medicolegally any deviation from your standard practice as a result of COVID-19 should be documented in the patient’s notes
In level 2 we anticipate that 50 percent of consultations will be “in-person”, and the other 50 percent will be through telephone, video or other virtual means.