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Care home residents our focus, say GP practices

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MUCH of the focus of primary care was on helping the island’s care homes as the three practices changed how they worked to cope with the pandemic.

(Picture by Shutterstock)

IslandHealth, the Healthcare Group and Queens Road Medical Practice stepped up to the plate to provide as much help as they were able to on what became known as Guernsey’s frontline.

From mid-March, all three practices mobilised their clinical resources and changed their way of working in response to the pandemic, as triage telephone teams were set up and patients were told to telephone surgeries rather than go in person.

IslandHealth and the Healthcare Group yesterday described what it was like for them to cope during the worst of the pandemic.

‘Much of the time, clinical work focused on GPs’ clinical assistance to residents of nursing and residential homes,’ a spokesman for the two practices said.

‘Each home was allocated to just one practice, to minimise additional footfall within the homes – this also helped reduce the chance of any inadvertent Covid transmission between homes.

‘This was a clinically very effective, but labour intensive, way of managing these homes.’

In mid-April it was announced at one of the press briefings that across four care homes a total of 95 residents and staff had been infected and all 13 of Guernsey’s confirmed coronavirus deaths were among those residents.

‘The record of Covid infection in care homes in Guernsey compares exceptionally well with most other locations,’ the practices continued.

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‘Regrettably two homes did see Covid cases and IslandHealth and Healthcare doctors stepped up to deal with these exceptionally challenging environments, and as a result, doubtlessly saved lives.’

This came on the back of all three practices establishing the Covid Clinic, which was manned at the Longfrie Surgery from 16 March.

‘No sums of money had been promised to the practices at this point, but all three undertook the work as clinicians have patient care uppermost,’ said the two practices.

‘Later HSC made clear any payment would be only for the period that started on 1 April.

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‘Because both practices took the view that payment for work carried out was the fairest arrangement, IslandHealth and the Healthcare Group supplied doctors to work at the Covid Clinic at times when patients were presenting in numbers

large enough to justify a doctor from all three practices being there.’

They added, after patients attending the clinic fell away dramatically during the second half of May, with June becoming even quieter still, Healthcare and IslandHealth only sent doctors to the clinic when needed.

The Covid Clinic was based at the Longfrie Surgery from 16 March until 2 April before being moved to the Chest and Heart Clinic at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital from 3 April to the end of May.

It was then moved back to the Longfrie Surgery from the start of June until it closed at the end of that month.

Danielle Kenneally

By Danielle Kenneally
News reporter

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