In new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for general practice, surgeries have been instructed to display patient information posters in places where they 'can be seen before patients enter the premises’.
Posters should also be displayed at reception, by touchscreen booking-in devices, in waiting areas and at patient access points to clinical areas.
In addition, the NHS document asks general practices to 'designate and prepare' a suitable space or spaces for patient isolation.
It says staff should declutter and remove non-essential furnishings in the isolation space, retaining a telephone in the room if possible.
Failing this, practices have been told to identify an isolated area within the surgery that can be cordoned off, maintaining a two-metre space from other patients and staff.
The advice comes as two more patients tested positive for COVID-19 on 28 February, bringing the total number of UK cases to 17. As of 27 February, a total of 7,690 people had been tested in the UK.
Earlier this month GPs were advised to wear surgical masks and other protective equipment if contact with a suspected coronavirus case is unavoidable, after at least 17 temporary practice closures.
Waste of GP time
The RCGP yesterday condemned reports of insurers and travel companies asking patients to obtain letters from their GP to cancel holidays amind the coronavirus outbreak.
College chair Professor Martin Marshall said it was ‘not a good use’ of GPs’ time to write letters for patients who were not ill but had plans to travel - and argued should not become GPs' responsibility to advise patients about where not to travel.
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock announced in the House of Commons this week that the government had a 'clear four-part plan' to respond to the outbreak of this disease and insisted the government was 'taking all necessary measures' to minimise the risk to the public.