When baseline workload is high it is difficult to proactively take steps to move forwards—something that no doubt many healthcare professionals are familiar with. But certain situations can act as catalysts, increasing the rate at which change takes place. Coronavirus means that we are doing things differently through necessity; to reduce the spread of infection face-to-face contact has almost disappeared and there has been a seismic shift to online meetings.

In primary care, more consultations than ever before are happening remotely. Our recent survey about the impact of COVID-19 on primary care highlighted that: 

  • 74% of respondents reported no face-to-face consultations with patients with COVID-19 symptoms
  • 72% of respondents reported that more than half of their consultations with patients without COVID-19 were by telephone.

Around half of respondents reported that they are less busy than normal, and only 20% of respondents feel they will not have time for learning and continuing professional development. If you are interested to learn more about the results from our survey, read the report at: GinP.co.uk/covid-survey-results

COVID-related changes in primary care are not just limited to the format of consultations. Dr Toni Hazell highlights some important adaptations to death certification procedures that have come into force following the Coronavirus Act 2020. These changes are aimed at simplifying the process of registering a death and completing the necessary paperwork for cremation, to reduce unnecessary infection risk and workload for medical practitioners. Read the article to learn about who can verify deaths in care homes and in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, criteria that must be met for any doctor to sign a medical certificate of cause of death, circumstances that merit referral of a death to a coroner, how to apply for cremation, and where to access the relevant guidance. Dr Hazell has also condensed the key messages in a 5-minute video—watch it online at: GinP.co.uk/video-deathcert

Lastly, in their View from the groundDr Emily Tyer and Dr Safian Younas describe how they moved a careers event for ST3 trainees online so that it could still go ahead when weekly VTS training days and time for in-house education were cancelled to manage an expected increase in COVID-19 workload. The authors highlight the importance of keeping learning going: ‘To lose medical education would be a tragic casualty of this pandemic … the crisis will come and go and trainees still need to be prepared to ensure they are ready to deal with the workload that will undoubtedly come in its wake.’

Major events engender change and there is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has done just that. The question is, which changes are here to stay, and which will fade away when all this becomes a distant memory?