Practices will be asked to ‘buddy up’ with nearby practices under joint plans published last week by the British Medical Association and Royal College of GPs, with the backing of the Department of Health
They state that a pandemic would put the NHS under ‘unprecedented pressure’ and that general practices in particular would be ‘stretched beyond its current limits’.
In a pandemic practices should assign nurses, GPs and other staff to see ‘either flu patients or non-flu patients’ on a daily basis. But nurses and other staff from one practice may also be asked to work at a buddy practice that is particularly short-staffed, the guidelines say.
Additionally, community nurses may find themselves assigned to struggling practices by their PCTs, while those working in community hospitals and walk-in centres could also find their role changed in line with local needs.
The guidelines recommend that practices have contingency plans on working with their neighbours in place by the end of March.