Primary care preparedness for the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: a survey of NHS GPs
Pilbeam C., Edwards G., Tonkin-Crine S., Raymond M., Van Hecke O., Gobat N.
BACKGROUND: Primary care manages a significant proportion of healthcare in the United Kingdom and should be a key part of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic response. AIM: To assess preparedness for the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic by understanding GPs' perception of their ability to manage current and future service demand, set-up of triage processes, and training in Covid-19 infection prevention and control procedures. DESIGN AND SETTING: Cross-sectional survey of practicing GPs in the United Kingdom, with 2 rounds of data collection early in the pandemic. METHODS: Online survey, scripted and hosted by medeConnect Healthcare, comprising 6 closed prompts on 7-point Likert scales, and an optional free-text component. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Free-text data were analysed thematically. RESULTS: One thousand two GPs completed each round; 51 GPs completed free-text responses in March, and 64 in April. Quantitative data showed greatest confidence in triage of Covid-19 patients, and GPs were more confident managing current than future Covid-19 demand. GPs' responses were more optimistic and aligned in April than March. Free-text data highlighted that GPs were concerned about lack of appropriate personal protective equipment and personal risk of Covid-19 infection in March, and unmet needs of non-Covid-19 patients in April. In both rounds, GPs expressed feeling overlooked by government and public health bodies. CONCLUSION: Guidance to support general practice clinicians to manage future waves of Covid-19 or other health emergencies must be tailored to general practice from the outset, to support clinicians to manage competing health demands, and mitigate impacts on primary care providers' wellbeing.