FERMANAGH’s GPs may never return to ‘normal’, and the current arrangements many of us have become used to during the Covid lockdown will likely remain in place for the foreseeable future.
That is the view of one prominent local GP, who said the scientific advice they are being given is to continue with telephone triage indefinitely.
Dr Brendan O’Hare is the GP in Ederney and is also a member of the British Medical Association. He said: “The advice we’re getting centrally is that if people contact us they have to have their call triaged by a GP or nurse, or appropriate health professional. You can’t at the minute book an appointment.
“The government advice is that we’re not to currently reintroduce that. To to that you’d have to be able to operate a waiting room and we can’t in the current environment do that. Covid is very low, but it’s still there.”
Dr O’Hare said some services were being reintroduced which can operate on a pre-booked system, such as smear tests, but said, given the nature of Covid symptoms, which are similar to seasonal flue, and the strong likelihood of a ‘second wave’, he did not anticipate a return to normality any time soon. If ever.
“We have been warned again, and warned again and again, that this is coming back. Not that it might,” he said. “When children go back to school, come October or November it will appear along with the flus, the sore throats, the coughs, the temperatures.”
Dr O’Hare said it could be “clinically impossible to differentiate” between early Covid symptoms and those of seasonal viruses, such as flu, at times.
“Obviously, if you become sicker it becomes easier, but for younger people the symptoms may be no worse than a bad cold yet nevertheless that young person would pose a significant risk to some elderly patient who may be in the surgery at the same time. We have to protect them against that,” he said.
“Obviously the big fear for all of us that in late autumn and early winter when we see a big spike, a normal natural spike in infectious illness, these things are going to be really challenged. You simply cannot bring large numbers of people in to surgeries where they will infect each other.”
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