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Digital exclusion is a COVID-19 learning point for GPs

Welsh inspector concludes that remote consultations do not suit all

January 21st 2021

Tagged: Wales HIW COVID19

By Ailsa Colquhoun

Avoiding digital exclusion is one of the COVID-19 ‘lessons learned’ from GP practices in Wales, according to the regulator.

In a Quality Insight bulletin – COVID-19, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales highlights concerns regarding the use of remote consultations, and the risk that some patients may not be able to access services due to technical or logistical challenges. It concludes: “It is therefore important that relevant patient groups are still able to safely access in person appointments.”

Only two GP practices were visited, however.

In general advice for partners, HIW urges all senior level managers not to underestimate the levels of fatigue, stress or anxiety of staff working during COVID-19. It calls for robust arrangements to support the workforce as the pandemic continues.

HIW concludes: “The pandemic has introduced unique and unprecedented pressures on the system that will continue through the winter months. We have found many examples that highlight the outstanding efforts of staff whilst providing services to patients and the public. As such we would particularly like to commend the commitment and flexibility of all staff working within healthcare services, who have worked tirelessly to help keep patients and their colleagues safe.”

Another Quality Insight Bulletin is due to be published in February.