PPE availability for care workers has “greatly improved” but GPs will now only visit care homes if there is a clinical need, according to Scottish Care and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
In a joint statement, leaders of the two bodies said that GPs are increasingly giving advice and assessments over the phone or by video calls and only attending care homes if necessary.
However, following a joint warning alongside the Royal College of Nursing about the “urgent need” for more personal protective equipment (PPE) for social care workers, they said the situation has improved since last week.
In the statement, Dr Carey Lunan, chair of RCGP Scotland, and Donald Macaskill, CEO of Scottish Care, said: “We recognise that the Covid-19 pandemic is an incredibly worrying time for care home residents and their families, and also for care home staff who continue to provide exceptional care during this time.
“GPs will continue to deliver the same high level of care and support that they have always provided to their patients in care homes.
“GPs have had to rapidly adapt the way that they deliver clinical care in the last few weeks, with much more advice and assessment being done over the telephone or by video consulting, where it is safe and appropriate to do so.
“The safety of care home residents is very important to GPs and, for that reason, they would only visit in person where there is a clinical need to do so, to reduce the potential risk of bringing any infection into the home.
“If a face to face visit is needed, they will wear the appropriate PPE to protect staff and residents.
“We wrote jointly on this issue last week, together with the Royal College of Nurses, to the Cabinet Secretary to highlight the urgent need for appropriate levels of PPE for all community health and social care staff.
“We are pleased to say that this situation has since greatly improved.”
At the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We’ve been working really hard to address PPE issues and we will continue to do that, although I do think we are well on the way to resolving the issues there.
“People should get the care they need, the care that is appropriate for them and their condition, and I think that regardless of age, regardless of background, regardless of where in the country you are.”
“The principle of our National Health Service is you get the care that is appropriate to your needs and that is true of people in care homes, just as it is for anybody else.”
National clinical director Jason Leitch added that there had been a “transformation” of the way care is being delivered at home, and in care homes, during the lockdown.
Prof Leitch said: “General practitioners are very, very well placed to make choices and decisions with families and residents about when they should visit, when it is safe to do so.”
He added: “All the countries in the UK are concerned that we provide the right support, the right guidance, the right PPE, but also the right care and compassion for the residents and the families that face this really difficult pandemic in a unique circumstance in our care homes.”
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