GP looks to the future following the impact of Covid-19 on Primary Care

A Newton Stewart GP is looking to the future as Dumfries and Galloway starts to emerge from the pandemic.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 10:31 am
Dr Charlie Dunnett is a partner at Galloway Hills Medical Practice in Newton Stewart

Dr Charlie Dunnett, a partner at Galloway Hills Medical Practice, said: “When the first Covid wave hit we didn’t really know what we were dealing with.

“Once we got a better handle on it, Primary Care rapidly went back to being able to deliver as much of its service as it could - but within quite considerable restrictions.

“We had to move towards remote consulting, working by telephone and by using the Near Me video consultation technology, which we’d not really had a chance to fully embrace.

“For in-person appointments we’ve had to space out waiting times, control patient flow, and change the PPE and clean each room between every single patient.

“I can do a lot of things on the phone fully and safely, what I can’t do is have a nurse dress your wound over the phone or have a healthcare assistant take your blood.

"And these are things that we’ve kept doing throughout 90 per cent of the pandemic. These people still need to come in.

“We’ve not got reduced capacity in terms of GP appointments because they’re just being delivered in a different way.

“In fact, I’m doing more appointments a day now than I was pre-Covid because of workload. I’m busier than I’ve ever been.

“What Covid has done is focused our ways of working to allow us to see the people who have most need to be seen in person, and those that can be assisted safely and remotely are dealt with safely and remotely.

“And gradually, we’ll be shifting from Covid response to an approach that’s fit for 21st century healthcare in Scotland in line with Scottish Government plans.

“We still have the same expectations and demands from patients, and in fact those were increasing nationally before we were hit by Covid-19.

“It’s been a difficult time, and negotiating our way through these challenges has made it a more stressful working life.

“But while it’s important we acknowledge all the changes that were required to be put in place, we also need to look to a future and embrace all that is good about the new ways of working.”