GPs struggle to tackle winter Strep A outbreak

9th December 2022 by NASGP

GPs struggle to tackle winter Strep A outbreak

GPs are struggling to reassure parents during an outbreak of Strep A amongst children in the UK.

The bacteria group (sometimes referred to as Group A Strep, or GAS) causes scarlet fever and becomes more serious when the infection spreads, for example to the blood or lungs (invasive Group A Strep or iGAS).

GPs have reported huge numbers of parents presenting as concerned, a shortage of antibiotics and a lack of central guidance. Pharmacists also reported shortages.

GPs also urged NHS England to direct parents to 111, Pulse reported.

On Monday the UK HSA produced a factsheet for the public, in which is advised parents to see a GP if:

  • The child is getting worse, feeding or eating much less than normal
  • The child has had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more or shows other signs of dehydration
  • The baby is under three months and has a temperature of 38C, or is older than three months and has a temperature of 39C or higher
  • The baby feels hotter than usual when you touch their back or chest, or feels sweaty.

UKHSA also advised that antibiotics should only be taken in confirmed cases of scarlet fever or another GAS infection, or in certain circumstances where Health Protection Teams recommend their wider use.

GP Update added their scarlet fever factsheet to its homepage last week, and NB Medical have also released a Keep It Simple update.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “Although the absolute risk still remains very low, many parents are nevertheless worried, and with services already stretched to their limits, even a small rise in our caseload like this is having an impact. And no doubt, there will be even longer delays to see a GP, which in itself will have a knock-on impact on other patients.

“Although NASGP Locum Chambers members meet up every month, we always take a break in December, and I’m sure that when we reconvene in January we will all be reflecting on these last weeks of 2022.”

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