It is a difficult time for health care professionals, especially those in direct contact with vulnerable service users. The purpose of this guideline is to provide recommendations for managing COVID‑19 symptoms for patients in the community, including at the end of life. It also includes NICE recommendations about managing medicines for these patients, and protecting staff from infection.
This guideline focuses on what you need to stop or start doing during the pandemic. Follow the usual professional guidelines, standards and laws (including those on equalities, safeguarding, communication and mental capacity), as described in making decisions using NICE guidelines.
This guideline is for:
- health and care practitioners
- health and care staff involved in planning and delivering services
The recommendations bring together
- existing national and international guidance and policies
- advice from specialists working in the NHS from across the UK. These include people with expertise and experience of treating patients for the specific health conditions covered by the guidance during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
1 Communicating with patients and minimising risk
1.1For patients with COVID‑19 symptoms explain:
- that the typical symptoms are cough, fever, and loss of sense of smell or taste, but they may also have breathlessness (which may cause anxiety), delirium (which may cause agitation), fatigue, headache, muscle aches and sore throat
- that they and people caring for them should follow the UK guidance on self-isolation and the UK guidance on protecting vulnerable people
- that if the symptoms are mild they are likely to feel much better in a week
- who to contact if their symptoms get worse, for example NHS 111 online. [amended 26 May 2020]
1.2 Communicate with patients and support their mental wellbeing, signposting to charities and support groups where available, to help alleviate any anxiety and fear they may have about COVID‑19.
1.3 Minimise face-to-face contact by:
- offering telephone or video consultations (see BMJ guidance on Covid-19: a remote assessment in primary care for a useful guide including a visual summary for remote consultations)
- cutting non-essential face-to-face follow up
- using electronic prescriptions rather than paper
- using different methods to deliver medicines to patients, for example pharmacy deliveries, postal services, NHS volunteers or introducing drive-through pick-up points for medicines.