No services have transferred from secondary to primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of steps have been taken to ensure patients can be treated safely, and that sufficient capacity was available in hospitals to treat patients with COVID-19. No updates to the NHS Standard Contract were required to facilitate these changes, which included:
- All practices have adopted total triage model, allowing them to appropriately treat patients either face to face or remotely;
- COVID-19 Clinical Assessment Service arrangements were put in place to supplement existing 111 services, to ensure patients were assessed and referred to appropriate treatment in the community or in hospital as required, and;
- New discharge funding arrangements have been in place to ensure allow the safe and rapid discharge of those people who no longer need to be in a hospital bed. This funding has allowed patients to be quickly discharged either to their homes, for rehabilitation or short-term care, or for ongoing nursing care, often in a bedded setting.
Ongoing collaboration between secondary and primary care providers is essential to ensuring patients are treated appropriately, led by local systems.