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BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in a rapid change in workload across healthcare systems. Factors related to this adaptation in UK primary care have not yet been examined. AIM: To assess the responsiveness and prioritisation of primary care consultation type for older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. DESIGN AND SETTING: A cross-sectional database study examining consultations between 17 February and 10 May 2020 for patients aged ≥65 years, drawn from primary care practices within the Oxford Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) sentinel network, UK. METHOD: The authors reported the proportion of consultation type across five categories: clinical administration, electronic/video, face-to-face, telephone, and home visits. Temporal trends in telephone and face-to-face consultations were analysed by polypharmacy, frailty status, and socioeconomic group using incidence rate ratios (IRR). RESULTS: Across 3 851 304 consultations, the population median age was 75 years (interquartile range [IQR] 70-82); and 46% (n = 82 926) of the cohort (N = 180 420) were male. The rate of telephone and electronic/video consultations more than doubled across the study period (106.0% and 102.8%, respectively). Face-to-face consultations fell by 64.6% and home visits by 62.6%. This predominantly occurred across week 11 (week commencing 9 March 2020), coinciding with national policy change. Polypharmacy and frailty were associated with a relative increase in consultations. The greatest relative increase was among people taking ≥10 medications compared with those taking none (face-to-face IRR 9.90, 95% CI = 9.55 to 10.26; telephone IRR 17.64, 95% CI = 16.89 to 18.41). CONCLUSION: Primary care has undergone an unprecedented in-pandemic reorganisation while retaining focus on patients with increased complexity.

Original publication

DOI

10.3399/bjgp20X710933

Type

Journal article

Journal

Br J Gen Pract

Publication Date

13/07/2020

Keywords

COVID-19, frailty, polypharmacy, remote consultation, workload