Covid-19 shake-up for GP practices post-lockdown
Coronavirus could see long-term changes being brought in at doctors' surgeries in the future, according to Shropshire's health commissioners.
Dr Julian Povey, chair of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, says medical services could well be delivered in different ways going forward, with GP practices choosing to stagger surgery times or make use of separate entrances for patients with certain symptoms.
Such changes have already been brought in at some surgeries around the county, which have been forced to adapt during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Dr Povey, who has more than 25 years' experience as a local GP, said: "Over a period of time we will need to look at how primary care provides services. There will still be potential Covid patients or patients with temperatures.
"It might be that even moving into the long-term we are going to have to see those in a different way in primary care than we did do beforehand.
"Beforehand, everyone was mixed in, whereas we are splitting those up now and it might be we see changes to where surgeries, if they are large enough, can actually rearrange themselves so they stagger surgery times, or they have separate entrances or it may be that you see practices working together and one site being where hot-type patients are seen.
"There's a few models of that across the country. In London and Birmingham they are looking at different ways of providing primary care post this initial challenging period of time."
At the beginning of the virus outbreak, a drive-thru assessment centre for patients with suspected coronavirus symptoms opened in the car park of Shrewsbury Town Football Club, aiming to relieve pressure on local GP practices and hospitals.
The facility, which has drive-through lanes and clinical rooms, is still open to patients across the county who are referred there, but is only seeing a very small number now.
Dr Povey said: "Not all practices make use of it.
"The large practices are able to divide their premises up so they can keep potential Covid patients separate from the non-Covid patients so not every practice uses it, but the vast majority do.
"In primary care we try to deal with everything remotely first and only if people need to be seen are we seeing them.
"Where there are patients with temperatures or possible symptoms of Covid, that's when they are brought to the assessment centre or they can be visited at home by the home visiting service.
"But the numbers of patients going through there are quite low at the moment, certainly below 20 most days, if not quite a bit lower than that on some days, but it is covering a huge population."