GPs in the Netherlands using MEDsan rapid antigen tests: “We must be able to continue to guarantee care”
Now more than ever it is critical that people can quickly access care from their GP, especially if suffering from coronavirus-related complaints. However, GPs and practice staff are finding themselves struggling to cope with the demand due to staff being off sick or because they are having to self-isolate.
In order to tackle this problem, the Netherlands’ National General Practitioners Association had advocated rapid coronavirus testing for GPs and practice staff.
“Otherwise this will inevitably have consequences for the continuity of general practitioner care. We desperately need every healthcare professional to prevent patients from having to wait a long time to receive care,” says the umbrella organisation.
“Fortunately, we have already responded to this”, says Ron Wissink of Huisartsenzorg Drenthe GP Care Group. “Last week we started delivering the rapid tests; we are currently the only province of the Netherlands in this area. We have purchased four thousand, so we can move forward for now.”
The tests are MEDsan’s rapid antigen test kits. Rapid testing has eagerly been embraced by the practices. “We want to be proactive in this, because we must be able to continue to provide care. That is the most important thing.” With a rapid test, a doctor or employee knows within 15 minutes whether they are infected. “And that is different from waiting two to four days when you do a coronavirus test at the GGD.”
Coronavirus causing forced closures of GP surgeries
GP practices throughout the Netherlands have been forced to close or are providing less care due to staff shortages. Nationally, six out of ten GP practices are struggling with these problems, including those in the province of Drenthe. “There are now five GP practices that are closed”, Wissink says.
Flu season bringing additional demand
Then there is now another organisational hurdle to overcome. Seasonal flu shots will be given en masse next week and it is expected that more people than ever will request a flu shot due to the pandemic. For that reason, more vaccines have been purchased. “Some GP practices appear to be too small to be able to maintain sufficient distance,” says Wissink. “What you see now is that practices will collaborate more and cluster with each other in order to give the flu shots. For example, in some villages the shots are given in the village hall or in the sports hall.”
When GPs are facing such demand through the coming months, rapid testing is a practical means to help protect GPs, practice staff and patients from infection. Businesses and organisations around the world are turning to rapid testing to protect their employees from coronavirus.
This story was reported in RTV Drenthe news.
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