News | Published April 16 2020

Covid-19: co-founder of The GP Surgery Ltd discusses firm's response to crisis

The GP Surgery Ltd was founded by NHS general practitioners to offer private healthcare services in Wimbledon and southwest London as an affordable alternative for patients where the NHS cannot meet a patient’s requirements. In conversation with The Parliamentary Review, co-founder and director Claudine Cash discusses their response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact the crisis has had on the business.

Unlike a great many UK businesses that have been forced to suspend their operations under lockdown measures, The GP Surgery Ltd has been able to remain open, albeit offering a reduced service to ensure patient and staff safety going forward.

Explaining in more detail, Claudine said: “Whereas many businesses have been forced to close down their operations completely, we are still able to offer a reduced service to our patients. We have had to balance the safety of both patients and staff, with the needs of patients who still require a face-to-face appointment with a GP.

“Keeping our staff well and protected from potential infection is obviously crucial for both their own welfare and our ability to offer patients continuity of service.

“We have reduced the types of services that we offer during this lockdown period, providing only services that are crucial, for example certain GP consultations, blood tests and ultrasound scanning, which can be done safely in the current environment.”

The firm has also undertaken measures concerning Covid-19 testing to ensure staff and patient safety, as well as arming personnel with Personal Protective Equipment [PPE].

“We have purchased and implemented Covid testing for our staff to ensure safety for staff and patients alike”, Claudine explained.

“We have also purchased PPE and implemented measures to prevent patients with Covid symptoms from having contact with non-clinical staff or with other patients.”

The GP Surgery has also taken steps to introduce new online facilities, which has enabled staff to carry out duties remotely and thus reduce the risk of infection.

“We have brought in some online facilities that allow us to work more flexibly during this period”, Claudine said.

“These measures have enabled us to reduce our surgery opening hours as part of our minimised service. This has, in consequence, minimised the number of staff that are required on-site and thereby reduced their travel requirements and potential exposure, whilst continuing to offer services to patients.”

However, the reduction of services has inevitably meant that the business has had little option but to furlough some staff under the government’s Job Retention Scheme, as Claudine elaborates on.

“Due to the reduction in our services, some of our reception and administrative staff have been placed on furlough. This will hopefully mean that, when business is able to get back to normal, our well-trained and experienced team will be able to return to work for us with as little disruption as possible.”

Claudine and the wider team at the GP Surgery are still very much in the dark as to how long the current measures will be in place and the wider impact the outbreak will have on the business remains unknown. Yet, she was insistent that this will not sway efforts to maintain services for those who need them.

“We will endeavour to maintain the current services for those who need them, for however long the lockdown lasts.

“The financial impact of this Covid-19 outbreak on our business is as yet unknown and we will continue to monitor the viability of our temporary service provision. We feel fortunate to be able to remain open at some level and to be able to continue to provide a valuable service to patients.

"If anything, this whole ordeal has proven to us how quickly we can adapt to a new and extremely challenging situation when necessary, albeit at a cost to our business and a concern for our staff.”

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
April 16 2020

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