Rubia Usman is a newly qualified GP partner, learning on the job.

We recently had a covid outbreak in our small town surgery of nearly 10000 patients. Throughout the pandemic we worked and changed things to adapt to the new norm. However in the second wave what started as two staff members being positive (possibly from different sources) ended up being a case of 8 positive staff and 17 members off – which included ALL of our admin, reception and managing team – due to being possible contacts or isolation. At one point we had no regular admin staff working on site. Being a three partner surgery there were times we felt we had been handed more than we could bargain for. However we survived to live another day and tell this story.

Know your IT
The key to our staying open and working was in the IT details. We managed to use mobile twinning for our isolating reception staff (singular not plural) and through her help we were able to carry on with tasks, booking appointments, booking covid vaccination clinics and doing as much reception remote work as we could. Home use of laptops of course helped with our management and our managers managed to keep the ball rolling and keeping a tight tab on things remotely. As is the case with any NHS issue there had to be multiple emergency meetings with the CCG, infection control and PHE and all this could not have been possible without Microsoft Teams.

Home use of laptops of course helped with our management and our managers managed to keep the ball rolling.

Know your staff
More than your IT it is the humans – the blood and sometimes guts of your colleagues that actually keeps you going. We were lucky enough to have our HCAs on site and supporting us throughout this. They had to work out of the box, do reception duty where needed, help organise and open up surgery and keep us afloat. Managers lost track of time of day and hours as they had to be involved in dealing with finding out about positive cases at all hours of day and night and do contact tracing. Needless to say what team we had left had to work tirelessly to keep things running smoothly.

It is the humans – the blood and sometimes guts of your colleagues that keeps you going.

Know your support system
Any reasonably good doctor knows when to know to seek help. So that’s just what we did. We got help from our local CCG, PCN, other surgeries in our area and Safecare which is a GP federation of all 19 North Lincolnshire practices. We managed to beg, borrow, steal (pun intended) admin staff where we could. What work could be done remotely i.e. scanning and coding was done off site. However nothing beats on site staff and we managed through support of Safecare we were able to run things smoothly.

Know your building
I joined the surgery as a partner within the last 2 years. During my training and this time I had never had the need to know the alarm code. However we all had to have a crash course in locking and opening up and it isn’t as easy as one would think.

We all had to have a crash course in locking and opening up.

Know your local pizza shop
Be sure to thank the people who are there to help you. We all know unhealthy food always tastes better at work when you are rushing and half starved. A slice of pizza eaten in a socially distanced setting goes a long way.

Be sure to thank the people who are there to help you.

Know yourself
Throughout the two weeks of endemic we were asked by friends, family and even ourselves that should we not just give up and admit defeat. However it wasn’t an option. Perhaps it is the gruelling years of medical school or training that beats the ability to give up out of you. Or perhaps it was just the team work and support of each other that kept us going. Throughout my training I had heard being a partner is more than just a 9-5 job and there is no concept of time. But never before had it been this apparent. I doubt this is the last crisis of my GP career but I do feel that I can tackle anything more the pandemic throws at me. After all what doesn’t kill you does make you stronger.

 

Featured photo by Laura Davidson on Unsplash