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Testing and PPE Issues in Primary Care

Publication date: October 2020

The LMC has today written to our four local CCG chairs, along the chair of the Humber, Coast and Vale Testing Group and NHS England to express concern about access to testing and supplies of PPE in primary care. This follows calls and messages from practices in the Humber region who are experiencing problems. The full text of our letter is below:

"The evolving second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to cause significant pressure on primary care. The LMC is receiving calls from practices across the HCV area experiencing major issues in accessing testing for primary care staff, and in accessing adequate PPE. 

There remains an ongoing discrepancy between the ability of the primary care workforce to access testing compared to those colleagues working in secondary care. This compounds the perception that primary care is undervalued at present, and we welcome your influence in accessing equitable testing for all healthcare staff. All staff working in the NHS need to be assured of the same access to timely testing; general practice will not function over the coming months without this based on the current levels of staff needing to isolate while awaiting testing or results. Given no national solution is forthcoming, we urge the HCV area to source a local solution or risk destabilising healthcare services. 

PPE remains a problem, and while practices continue to order supplies via the portal as recommended, we request that additional supplies are procured at local level to support the increased need. The end of the Covid reimbursement fund means that practices cannot rely on reimbursement, and it is unfair to expect primary care staff to be personally funding their PPE when other parts of the NHS have it provided for free. We would urge all HCV CCGs to use local suppliers to secure adequate supplies and support primary care. 

This is the beginning of another incredibly challenging time for the NHS; locally the workforce is tired, demoralised, and running on empty. Your public support and commitment to addressing these key areas would provide a vital boost to colleagues."

We will keep you updated with developments on these important issues. If you need advice or support from the LMC please contact us. Resources and information can be found on our Support and Coronavirus pages.   

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