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Inverness GPs sign up to new partnership with city care homes in the wake of coronavirus crisis

By Gregor White

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Under new arrangements individual GP practices in Inverness will be partnered with specific care homes to reduce risk of coronavirus infection.

Until recently GPs and health care practitioners from the 11 practices across Inverness went into every city care home to treat individual patients.

While this was welcomed by patients who had a long standing relationship with individual GPs, the Covid-19 outbreak meant that had to be rethought.

The result now is that each GP practice is aligned with a care home (and some with two care homes).

The practice will provide all levels of primary care for their associated home.

Jill Mitchell, NHS Highland’s head of primary care for North Highland said: "Covid-19 has meant that we needed to rethink exactly how we can provide a safe and equitable primary care provision to each care home.

"The idea of practices aligning with individual homes came from the GPs themselves.

"One of the main considerations was how we would restrict the amount of footfall in the homes.

"Previously GPs or nurses from all 11 practices might have been visiting all of the homes.

"That’s not good in the light of the pandemic where it is crucial that visits by lots of different people may result in the virus being passed on.

"Aside from that, the scheme is showing evidence of reductions in hospital visits and better medicines’ management.

"We have agreed to continually review this scheme as we progress through the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic

An early adopter of the new scheme, Dr Iain McNab of Riverside Medical Practice, and out of hours clinical lead for Inverness and East Highland said: "In Riverside we have set up a care home team. This comprises four nurse practitioners and three GPs. The service is mainly run by our specialist nurses with close backup from the GPs.

"This has meant much stronger and closer relationships with the care home staff and provides continuity of care for the patients.

"We believe that we have got a good skill mix to provide an optimal service and we’ve been able to introduce new initiatives.

"For example, every Monday and Tuesday we have a ‘virtual ward round’ for each of our two care homes where the staff can discuss medical issues of patients with one another and care can be organised accordingly.

"I think this is, ironically, a new learning that the Covid-19 outbreak has brought us."

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