Shropshire GP practices facing huge demand over Strep A concern

GP practices Shropshire have been facing a huge increase in demand with parents concerned about Strep A.

Shropshire GP practices facing huge demand over Strep A concern

As practices have been inundated with calls from concerned parents, some are having to make changes – such as a temporary stop for routine appointments – to make space to deal with the increase in emergency calls.

Emma Pyrah, associate director of primary care at NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, said the situation had led to a "large influx in demand".

Cambrian Medical Practice in Oswestry sent a message to patients explaining that it was "overwhelmed with urgent calls relating to the Strep A & Scarlet Fever infections".

It said that as a result it had made the "difficult decision to suspend routine work for the forthcoming days in order to deal with the demand we are facing".

Dr Jess Harvey, a GP at Much Wenlock and Cressage Medical Practice, as well as the clinical director for the South East Shropshire Primary Care Network, said that practices would only consider changes to routine appointments to ensure patient safety.

She added that around 50 per cent of the emergency calls to her practice on Monday had been parents worried about Strep A.

"Any practice making a decision to reduce routine work would only do so in the interests of patient care and safety, and is never an easy decision to make," said Dr Harvey.

"We all want the best for our patients but we have to accept that there may be times when we have to prioritise certain aspects of patient care in order for us to work safely and provide the best possible care and attention for our patients."

Ms Pyrah encouraged concerned parents to look at Strep A and Scarlet Fever advice on the NHS website before contacting their GP.

She said: "Practices across the county are currently experiencing a large influx in demand, with some practices having to adapt their provision to deliver additional appointment capacity.

“Although we do understand it's difficult to know when you or your child needs to see a doctor, please look first at helpful advice on spotting the symptoms of Scarlet Fever/Strep A on the NHS website, before contacting your GP practice. There are lots of viruses that cause sore throats, colds and coughs at this time of year, and these should resolve without medical intervention.

“Advice at the moment is to firstly review symptoms online, speak to NHS 111 as your first port of call should you need further advice, or contact your community pharmacy who will be able to advise whether medication or GP involvement is needed.”

It comes as new data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows 13 children under 15 have died in England since September.

Two other deaths of children have been recorded in Belfast and Wales, taking the UK total to 15.

Illnesses caused by Strep A include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.

While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause a life-threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease.

The UKHSA has said there is no current evidence that a new strain is circulating and the rise in cases is most likely due to high amounts of circulating bacteria and increased social mixing.

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