Flemish GPs pull the emergency brake

Flemish family doctors’ association Domus Medica has said its members, family doctors or GPs, will in future only test patients who are ill and no longer test people who had high risk contact with corona patients.  The organisation says GP practices and on-call doctors are being inundated by work as a result of the surge in new cases.  The doctors are demanding strong measures to stem the advance of the virus.

“It stops now” says the association.  We will only test patients who are ill, if there are clinal indications”.

The doctors are particularly unhappy about the amount of work caused by having to test high risk contacts. 

Domus Medica argues that testing and contact tracing is an important tool to stem circulation of the virus as long as it remains under a certain threshold.  “Today this threshold has been surpassed by far.  It’s no longer feasible to test en masse and carry out contact tracing.  In many centres there is a two-to-three day wait before you can get tested”. 

Domus Medica also notes that instances of (especially verbal) aggression directed at GPs have risen too.  Doctors on call last weekend say it was a weekend from hell, the worst since the start of the pandemic. 

Doctors are unhappy that hospital admissions are seen as the sole indicator of the need to take measures.  “For some people health care equals hospitals.  First line health care is no longer important.  GPs have pleaded for action in recent days but the authorities have allowed the situation to implode!”

Family doctors argue that contact tracing and providing explanation to high-risk contacts means people who are seriously ill are paying the price: “We’re being forced to postpone all care of non-infectious diseases.  Patient follow-up…  Follow up of mental care…  We may be able to offer patients an appointment after the winter.”

Top stories