Agenda item

Primary Care: An Update on National Policy Changes 2020/21

Presentation by Commissioning Lead – Primary Care, NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group


The Commissioning Lead, Primary Care gave a presentation (previously circulated) updating Members on the Primary Care national policy changes 2020/21.


It was reported that the standard operating procedure in response to coronavirus was first published on 19 March 2020 and subsequently withdrawn in July 2021 in line with covid recovery; Members noted that during this period Practices remained open with infection prevention control measures in place, as directed by Public Health England, and where clinically necessary, were consulting with patients face to face. 


Details were provided of the key operational changes between March 2020 and March 2021, including a move to a total triage model that all practices were required to implement by April 2020; facilitation of Easter Bank holiday GP provision; GP support to Care Homes; the reinstatement of services in July 2020; and additional funding to expand capacity in seven priority areas.


The presentation provided details of the timeline for Phases 1, 2 and 3 of the covid vaccination programme; Darlington Primary Care Network (PCN) participated in phase 1 for cohorts 1-9 but left the programme in July 2021; Darlington PCN applied and were approved to deliver phase 3 and following Omicron, continued to deliver vaccinations for all cohorts until 31 March 2022.


Members were advised of further key operational changes; on 17 May 2021 social distancing legislation was changed and GPs were encouraged to see patients face to face, whilst continuing to follow infection prevention control guidance that remained in place; non-urgent care was paused on 13December to focus on the booster campaign; and routine services were reinstated on 27 January 2022.


Members noted that despite the challenges, GPs had been committed to maintaining vital primary care services and had to rapidly adapt to meet the demands of delivering these during a pandemic; and that whilst the new ways of working caused some frustrations for patients, were requested to continue to support Darlington’s practices and GPs positively.


Members raised concern and highlighted issues regarding access to GP appointments for residents; the Commissioning Lead, Primary Care highlighted that there was a need for greater patient education to enable patients to access the right service, which may not always be a GP appointment; that there was a range of clinical professionals within practices for patients to access and a GP community pharmacy scheme for minor ailments; and further details on campaigns would be provided.


RESOLVED – (a) That the presentation be noted.


(b) That Members be provided with details of campaigns in place to educate patients on available services.

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