General Practice, Safeguarding and Coronavirus: A Blog (Part 1)

Dr Rowena Christmas is a GP at The Wye Valley Practice in Trellech. She is an RCGP Council Representative & Safeguarding lead for the college in Wales, as well as being a Bevan Exemplar for Safeguarding work. 

In this blog, Rowena shares her account of the Covid-19 situation as it develops, from a professional and personal perspective.

Follow Rowena on Twitter - @ChristmasRowena

Wednesday February 12th, 2020

There doesn’t seem to be much in the news about Coronavirus; maybe it will just go away.

I’m writing a presentation on adult safeguarding. While it’s a relief to see greater focus on this distressing issue, the statistics are painful to read.  Recent reports suggest that almost 12,000 adults are at risk of abuse or neglect in Wales. Despite 717 police investigations, abuse in care homes rarely results in prosecution & abuse of the elderly generally seems to be largely ignored. Age Cymru say the figures demonstrate the "urgent need to increase the availability of advocacy services".

Primary care is uniquely placed to be a key player in safeguarding adults at risk of harm. The wishes of vulnerable adults should be at the heart of all decision making. Our priority is to identify vulnerability in order to support and empower patients to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.  We’re good at recognising and managing the care of vulnerable children. It’s time to work towards being just as effective at addressing the needs of the vulnerable elderly.

Saturday February 22nd, 2020

All eyes are on what is happening in Italy with Coronavirus, and to people on The Diamond Princess. It must be so frightening to be trapped in a cabin on a ship, just waiting to get ill. How do we know that a 14-day quarantine is sufficient? There’s no evidence base to work from. Public Health Wales are doing their best with so little information. It looks as though Italy is key to what happens here. Many health care professionals have died, including fit and healthy ones. Doctors’ social media groups have been discussing updating wills. It feels there will come a time when we stop trying to isolate cases and accept we just have to cope with the inevitable pandemic.

Tuesday February 25th, 2020

The talk about how you don’t need to worry about Coronavirus if you‘re young and fit is hardly reassuring for the millions of people who are not. It’s othering, as though these precious members of our society don’t matter.

We’re spreading Public Health Wales’ message that people should remain at home and call 111 if they think they have symptoms. Explaining that they shouldn’t visit their GP, while still trying to ensure they know we care & are here to help feels tricky.  The symptoms are so non-specific they could represent a host of other conditions. This is going to be a challenge to manage.

Wales had its first reported case today and the first British death. It has all started to feel very real. I don’t think I’ll get to the International Conference on Integrated Care in Croatia. It feels strange, after looking forward to it so much; the world suddenly seems smaller, priorities larger. I don’t even feel disappointed.

Wash your hands everyone. It has become a mantra. We will the Olympics be cancelled? Will my son Archie get his chance to paddle in the Czech Republic this summer?  Will they sit their GCSEs after all that revision?

Sunday March 1st, 2020

Reading a paper describing the link between children who are excluded from school and violence on the street. Exclusion is a tipping point that leaves children vulnerable to grooming gangs, with no easy way back to education or society. This is important. If children must be excluded it should be to a place of safety. County Lines Gangs thrive on excluded children.

The reading helps, but generally I’m struggling to think much beyond Covid19, my horizons have closed in. The government are introducing testing on a huge scale, we have only had one patient tested, and it was negative.

More to come on #RowenaChristmas

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