Making difficult decisions

The world responds to the coronavirus outbreak


In the last week, the international discourse has been dominated in a way like no other – fed in part by the rapidly changing nature of the situation across the world.

Officially recognised by the World Health Organization as a global pandemic – a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time – the questions ‘how can the coronavirus outbreak be contained to protect the public,’ and ‘how far should those measures go’ are paramount.

Last night, President Donald Trump announced that the US will not admit travellers from Europe excluding the UK and Ireland, while Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has in effect closed the country down with only pharmacies and food shops currently permitted to operate.

In the UK, headline writers this morning had seized on their health puns, charactering the new chancellor as ‘Dr’ Rishi Sunak, delivering a budget yesterday designed to give the economy a shot in the arm.

Measures announced include help for small and medium businesses with the extra costs of COVID-19 related statutory sick pay, a temporary business interruption loan scheme to help businesses access bank lending and overdrafts, and additional help with business rates for small businesses.

A Lancet editorial argues that the evidence “surely indicates that political leaders should be moving faster and more aggressively.” Citing the example of the public health efforts of the Chinese Government, the article adds: “High-income countries, now facing their own outbreaks, must take reasoned risks and act more decisively. They must abandon their fears of the negative short-term public and economic consequences that may follow from restricting public freedoms as part of more assertive infection control measures.”

To date, a series of four standard operating procedures for GPs, pharmacy, dentistry and primary care optical settings have been published on the NHS England website.

In addition, the AOP has updated its coronavirus guidance for optical practices, emphasising that while it remains “highly unlikely” that patients who present to an optical practice with cold or flu-like symptoms will have the coronavirus, “if patients inform you that they have any cold or flu-like symptoms before they arrive for their appointment then it is acceptable to advise them to rebook their appointment for when they have fully recovered.”

Of course, OT have been closely following the unfurling developments, including the postponement of a number of industry events. 

Practice owners too, are feeling the pressure and have shared with the team their business concerns surrounding COVID-19, as well as the steps they have taken to ensure the safety of staff and patients. 

How are you, patients and your practice responding to the situation? Get in touch with us by email to share your insights.

Has your practice experienced a drop in patient footfall in the last seven days?

  • We have not seen an effect so far

    138 37%
  • We are down 1 to 25%

    148 40%
  • We are down 26 to 50%

    50 13%
  • We are down more than 50%

    28 7%