COVID principles of general practice

The below list outlines nine key principles that need to be considered in our response to respiratory illness now that COVID has become endemic in the community. We need to acknowledge there are approximately 1000 general practices throughout New Zealand and every practice will need to take an individual approach to these issues dependant on need and assessment of risk.

These are the minimum measures that should still be considered within your practices as we still have a responsibility to limit the spread of, and treat respiratory illnesses:

  1. General practice has a key role to play in limiting the spread of and treating respiratory illness.
  2. Infection control should be under regular review within practices.
  3. The College supports mask use in general practice.
  4. For the safety of those working in the practice, and other patients, the College recommends continued screening at front desk for respiratory symptoms.
  5. Where possible or practical some sort of separation needs to be in place within GP waiting rooms, separating those with respiratory symptoms.
  6. Ventilation and aeration of consult and waiting rooms is important and there should be consideration given to the ongoing use of HEPA filters (opens to PDF).
  7. Regular cleaning of waiting rooms and consult rooms should be in place.
  8. Encourage ongoing COVID testing with patients, so that they can take steps to reduce chance of spread in households and communities and so that individuals can access appropriate support packages and funded access to medical care if it is required.
  9. Reduce individuals risks by proactively discussing /offering COVID vaccination and boosters, particularly with under vaccinated, eligible individuals who are at increased risk. Ensure Māori and Pasifika and other at-risk populations have ready and safe access to appropriate antivirals against COVID-19. (Also see: Pharmac simplifies criteria for COVID-19 antiviral treatments)

Longer term there will be implications for the design of general practice.

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