When looking at most special educational needs questions, GPs aren’t able to be terribly helpful, because the issues that arise are around the impact on education rather than on the correct medication to trial or similar. [This is a bit of an oversimplification, as there are areas where a GP would be able to advise eg. that a child, due to their medical conditions is likely to tire quickly and need an afternoon nap or rest period before more lessons, but it generally holds true]
Where GPs can help is with related issues:
- If you are caring for a disabled relative, it’s worth asking your GP to note that you are doing that. This applies whether you’re caring for a child or an adult (or as some people do, both ie. their child and an elderly parent) They are meant to offer eg. more flexible appointment arrangements to carers as well as annual influenza vaccinations. At the moment, unpaid carers are included as part of JCVI’s priority group 6 for COVID vaccinations, so there is some advantage to you in your GP being aware of your circumstances.
- It’s important your GP knows your occupation, as some conditions have occupational risk factors meaning priority for vaccinations. In respect of COVID, if you are employed by a disabled person as their PA, (whether independently, via a personal budget or direct payment) you fall within JCVI’s priority group 2 for COVID vaccinations, along with all other health and social care staff. [Yes, there’s an argument to be had about the ethics of prioritising paid care staff over unpaid carers, but for now this differential treatment is where we are]
- There’s certainly talk at the moment of prioritising adults who are key workers for COVID vaccinations at a later stage in the process, so if you are a critical worker it’s worth writing to your GP to make sure they have your occupation recorded correctly and to give them some understanding of how much in person contact you have with people as part of your work.
- Children aged 16 or 17 and adults who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable fall within priority group 4. Children aged 16 or 17 and adults who are Clinically Vulnerable (scroll down to “moderate risk”) fall within priority group 6. It’s arguably worthwhile attempting to arrange any overdue chronic disease appointments to make sure you/your child is definitely on your practice’s radar as falling within priority group 6. Priority group 6 also includes residents in residential care settings, which would include specialist schools as well as care homes, even where residents don’t have conditions that would put them in priority group 6 individually. Usually where people are living in a residential care setting they are registered with a local GP, but sometimes it’s easier for them to be registered with a GP near their usual family home. So if you have a child in such a setting, it’s worth making sure their GP knows this.
- At the moment, there’s very limited recommendations for vaccinating children under 16 – see pages 13-14 of Chapter 14a of the Green Book which limits the recommendation to children with severe neurological disease, who frequently get respiratory infections and who spend time in specialist residential settings for children with complex needs. If you have a child who falls within this category, it’d be worth telling their GP that you want them to have the vaccine as soon as it’s available.
- GPs are meant to co-ordinate provision and have complete sets of our medical records. When you have obtained independent reports for your child around an aspect of their SEN, it is usually worthwhile sharing these with your child’s GP, even if they won’t affect any medical management immediately. They may be relevant to your child in later life.