GP's under pressure due to sick employees; GGD not sharing Covid test results
Some 60 percent of GP practices in the Netherlands are struggling with staff shortages as sick employees wait at home for the results of their coronavirus tests, the national association for general practitioners LHV said based on a survey of 2,500 GPs. The association is also concerned by the fact that health service GGDs are now so overloaded by the high number of positive coronavirus tests that they no longer have time to inform doctors when their patients test positive for Covid-19.
The high sick leave rate currently at GP offices mean that the practices are less reachable by phone and that fewer consultation hours are available. GPs are currently covering for each other, but that may soon no longer be possible, Carin Littooij of the LHV said to NOS. "Up to now it was well organized internally, but it can't stay that way in the autumn and winter," she said. "In the long term, GP care will be less available and that is quite a drama."
So far it's been rare that a practice had to close completely. "But the practices say that less care can be provided. There is simply less time for a patient," Littooij said. As practices must also comply to social distancing rules, there is less physical space available, putting extra pressure on available care.
Despite this, the LHV urge people not to avoid going to the doctor if they're sick. "We urge people to keep in touch with the GP, especially if they have symptoms. An especially look at options in consultation with your GP."
The LHV is also very concerned by NRC's report that health service GGD is no longer able to inform the GP if one of their patients test positive for the coronavirus. At over 8 thousand positive Covid-19 tests per day, source and contact tracing is largely impossible at this stage.
"That can obviously not be the case!" Littooij said to RTL Nieuws in response. "It is very important for GPs to know whether patients have tested positive." She called it "crucial information". "If a patient calls and you need to see him, it is important to know that you must do so in full protection, for example. And it also makes a difference in the risk assessment of getting complication from a coronavirus infection. So we really need that information to know how to approach and treat the patient."
Littooij can't understand why there isn't an easier way to share this information. "We have been in talks with the Ministry of Public Health and the GGDs for months to come up with a digital solution in which we can receive test information about the positive, and preferably also the negative patients. We wonder why it has not yet managed to get off the ground. As far as we are concerned, that is up to the Ministry."
"It frustrates us enormously that we cannot get the results of the tests from the GGD digitally," Littooij said. "We desperately need this information to provide the best care for our patients."