Last reviewed 9 June 2020

The latest Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for General Practice in the Context of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Version 3, was published by NHS England on 29 May.

Practices have now been told they should assess where urgent and routine treatment has been delayed and focus on resuming chronic disease treatment and prevention, including vaccination and immunisation, contraception and health checks, in the context of advice provided.

The updated SOP says that, following a letter sent on 29 April from NHS England, the NHS is now in the second phase of the pandemic response.

GPs should now "proactively" address health needs that have "gone unmet, increased or developed" during the pandemic, such as mental health issues and health inequalities.

The SOP also announced that all vulnerable patients shielding from coronavirus should have a named clinical "lead co-ordinator"; the role can be either in primary or secondary care. This is one of nine "key actions" that general practices must take to support their shielding patients.

Also, practices must now report any coronavirus-related staff absence to NHS England on the new national tracker — the COVID-19 Staff Absence Tracker (CAT) — which NHS England and NHS Improvement have provided to make it simple for staff and managers to report Covid-19 related absence.

The CAT should be used to report staff who are unable to work due to caring responsibilities, symptoms of coronavirus, or confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis.

In addition, the document states that one of the key principles for practices was that, where possible, "staff should be enabled to work remotely". Practice staff should also be risk-assessed against coronavirus and remote working prioritised for those at increased risk.

Guidance and Standard Operating Procedures - General Practice in the Context of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Version 3, is available at: www.england.nhs.uk.