The current COVID-19 situation will naturally be of great concern to us all as Health Professionals, and inevitably effect the services and businesses that we provide.
Whilst some sectors of the media are responding in a balanced fashion and genuinely seeking to educate and inform based on ‘best’ available scientific advice, other parts of it are perhaps less so and of course social media is entirely uncontrolled and essentially provides a platform for any particular theory or single issue, right or wrong, that individuals may wish to promote.
It is the intent of your Institute to follow the advice being released by the most widely respected scientific sources such as Public Health England, Chief Medical Officers and NHS advice lines plus noting any advice from regulators such as the HCPC should they choose to issue it. Naturally, in any situation dealing with developing diseases such advice can change on an almost daily basis and may rapidly become out of date. Whilst I am certain that all of you, like myself, are closely watching such sources there may be situations where additional measures can be beneficially added in consideration of the services that we provide and in particular bearing in mind that many of our patients fall into the ‘at risk’ demographic categories.
Accordingly, I have tasked a staff member at Head Office to review the advice being disseminated to health professions by HM Government daily and report to the board concerning any changes or developments. The report will be assessed by designated board members, including myself, and then from the early part of this week be placed on our website in real time in a designated COVID-19 section. Therefore, I urge you to review the website daily. In the event of dramatic changes, we will utilise ‘MailChimp’ communications such as this, but as this situation appears to be in for the long haul we do not wish to create a counter-productive information overload to professionals such as yourselves who will be facing challenges beyond the ordinary.
At this point in time we suggest the measures (which I am sure you already do) of scrupulous handwashing for both yourselves and patients, wearing full clinical dress changed daily, together with ensuring you take a full and detailed history of all patients to identify any who may be symptomatic or who have recently returned from specifically infected locations. You may also wish, for example, to contact patients via telephone before their appointments to do a health review. Until 13th March,
Public Health England was recognising some countries as being ‘high risk’ via the www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19 section of the UK Government website but as of 16th March this has now been withdrawn as the outbreak is now recognised as pandemic. The https://www.gov.uk/government COVID-19 section of its website does contain updated information for both public and professionals and is an excellent source of balanced advice which I urge you to regularly review. In the short term the best condensed advice is undoubtedly that of strict personal and professional hygiene with scrupulous attention to effective infection control on your part.
As I am sure you will appreciate, Head Office’s workload has increased dramatically with the extra tasks placed upon it, so may I request you keep communications with them to a level of the absolute minimum essentials. As the friendly face of UK podiatry, I know that our Head Office staff often end up having long neighbourly conversations with members who contact them for various reasons, but please do help them to help you by not tying them up on phones for long periods.
Kind Regards from myself, your Board of Directors and our Head Office staff
Martin Harvey, FPodM PGC BSc
Chair of Executive Council
Podiatrist Independent Prescriber