Two weeks ago we identified an acute concern that GPs and their teams were becoming overwhelmed, not with cases of COVID-19, but with fatigue from the relentless nature of the changes they have had to make to daily practice, the constant threat of a potential lockdown of their practice due to staff illness, the demand for swabbing, the mismatch between the public messages to have swabs and the public's willingness to do so.
We saw that this is happening in an environment where the Ministry of Health, and DHBs under them, do not appear to understand, appreciate, or even know about the work practices are doing.
Patients are getting frustrated with "the new normal" of red, amber and green zoning, "phone first" and other telemedicine care, at times they are angry with staff who they see as a barrier to getting what they want when all they can do is provide what they need.
Clinical leaders in practices are getting frustrated with changing messages form the "centre" - the confusion caused by working across Alert Level 3 and Level 2 boundaries, the mixed messages from MOH and PHU and DHBs, and their PHOs.
Clinicians have concerns about the logic of the surveillance swabbing plan, the future of PPE supplies, delayed payments for swabbing services, threatened funding, the lack of focus on equity.
It feels like we are constantly battling to provide services that maintain the full scope of general practice, whilst at the same time being the front line of defence in a pandemic and having to make sense of the orders from generals who are way behind the lines and telling us supplies and sustenance are our problem.
The PHO clinical leaders group asked practices what would help, and one thing they asked for was an acknowledgement from the Ministry of the value of the work practices have done and continue to do in the COVID-19 response. They wanted to be seen.
During the daily briefing on 9 September Ashley Bloomfield gives that acknowledgment and thanks. He has said this early in the pandemic, when the college led the charge into telemedicine, but it is important to know that the people that matter know we matter.
It is a huge thing to be seen.
Practices are seen, they are acknowledged, the work they do is known and appreciated.
I can't resist saying, we also need action to help us continue to do our job.
And whilst wanting to be seen, it is important to see too. Together the PHO clinical leaders group and GPNZ wrote to Dr Bloomfield and the Ministry, to show appreciation for the work they are doing in response to COVID-19. Read the letter (PDF).