The BMA has launched a review into lessons learnt from the pandemic to understand ‘the impact on doctors and the NHS’, Pulse reports.
Following the Government’s announcement that it would not launch its inquiry until May 2022, the BMA began its own work and explicitly criticised the Government’s decision.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: “The public inquiry into the country’s handling of the pandemic will probably take years to gather evidence and publish its findings – so we should not be waiting to uncover the reasons why the UK has suffered the highest death toll in Europe or the seventh highest in the world as well as the devastating impact on our health service and its staff.
“In the absence of any meaningful action from Government, we will speak with our members and other stakeholders; pose the key questions they need to answer and produce clear recommendations for the Government.”
The BMA has identified five areas to focus on, including ‘The protection of healthcare workers from COVID-19’ and ‘The impact of the pandemic on healthcare workers’.
GPs were particularly hit by long Covid. In a feature for Pulse, one GP who had been unable to work last year due to experiencing lingering symptoms such as breathlessness, tachycardia, extreme fatigue and brain fog, reported that she had this spring recovered sufficiently to do locum work.
“Clinical work may be off the table for a while with long Covid, however much non-clinical work potentially could be done that could take the paperwork burden away from others,” she said. “We need to think laterally about how to support each other.”
The BMA’s review could also discuss the mass-cancellation of GP locum sessions at the beginning of the pandemic as part of its focus on a third area, ‘Delivery of healthcare during the pandemic’.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chair of the NASGP, said: “This review must include an in-depth review of the impact on the sessional GP workforce, including both self employed locums and salaried GPs.
“Despite so many of us taking the risk of working self-employed so that we can dedicate ourselves to provide flexible support for a wide range of practices that desperately need it, many of us were cancelled at the beginning of the pandemic, with a significant impact on our livelihoods, and joined by salaried GPs who lost their jobs after acquiring long covid on the front line.
“Systems exist already to support partners, but these are often absent for salaried GPs, and almost non-existent for locums. Covid simply aggravated the existing problem of professional isolation and poor support for this key component of the GP workforce.”