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For the GHA, routine clinical activity is a question of balancing risk

The Gibraltar Health Authority is considering how to restart routine areas of clinical activity which it had to halt to focus on its Covid-19 response, Acting Medical Director Dr Krishna Rawal said on Friday, even while cautioning that such decisions required a careful assessment of risks.

The GHA’s focus on preparing to tackle a surge in virus cases that may yet materialise has meant many routine services have either been scaled back or stopped altogether.

That has raised concerns among many in the community that the price of the GHA’s response may include healthcare problems that might otherwise have been avoided under normal circumstances.

They cite, for example, early detection of potentially serious conditions through screening programmes which in many areas have been halted out of necessity.

Speaking at the daily press conference, Dr Rawal said that the decision to halt or reopen services must be based on detailed risk assessments. 

“But my clinical teams are now thinking about how we can restart some clinical activity,” he added. 

“And bear in mind that’s not as simple as simply opening the doors.”

“Once again, we have to protect the patients who are in the hospital and we have to protect you.”

“If we’re inviting you back into the hospital, we have to make sure that that’s done absolutely safely and we don’t place you at increased risk.” 

Highlighting measures such as telephone and video consultations that the GHA has put in place to help mitigate the situation, Dr Rawal explained that patients have been admitted when necessary and the hospital has continued to carry out procedures. 

Dr Rawal urged anyone with any concerns to call the Primary Care Centre in the first instance and book a telephone consultation.

“Myself and all of the clinical teams are absolutely concerned about all of our patients at all times and the decisions that we make on a daily basis are based on risk,” he said. 

“[It’s about] what represents greater risk to somebody, whether that’s coming into the hospital and potentially putting somebody at risk of catching Covid, or the risk of not dealing with a medical issue.”