We would like to thank everyone for their patience with us over the last few months as the practice, along with the rest of the NHS and indeed our whole world, has undergone huge change. The NHS is gradually returning to a more normal service but there are now backlogs and new pressures in hospital and in general practice.
We wanted to provide this update and to ask for your co-operation with some news ways of working.
To help maintain a safe environment for us all, appointments, especially face to face ones, now take much longer. The need to don and doff our protective gear and cleanse the building on a very regular basis helps to limit the spread of coronavirus and keep the building safe, but it all takes more time. This in turn puts pressure on our ability to see as many cases as we normally might on a face-to-face basis. This means that you may need to wait longer than usual for an appointment to see or speak to a GP or nurse, especially if your need is not urgent .
Again, in response to ‘the new normal’ and its required ways of working, to help us maintain access and prioritise need, we are now operating a same day urgent response system, whereby anyone who has an urgent health care need will be spoken to and have their needs assessed that same day. To help us maintain this pledge, we ask that any requests for a same day appointment are only made when your need is genuinely urgent.
We will continue to offer appointments for less urgent matters, and an offer the ability to speak to a doctor of your choice, but, given the current situation, waiting times for such routine appointments may be longer than they were, and it may be trickier to see a particular GP of your choice.
We are continually reviewing access to our services and will adapt, as the situation allows, always aiming to accommodate everyone’s varying needs as best we can.
Please note that despite the current challenges, we certainly do not want to create any barriers to your accessing help – please do call us if you have any concerns about your health. We will always prioritise serious and urgent requests and get back to you.
Shielding patients (ie those that have had a letter from the government and are staying in their home all the time) should avoid coming to the surgery, until we are all instructed otherwise.
Home visits remain a limited and valuable resource for those who genuinely cannot leave their home. The need to restrict home visits to those who genuinely need them has never been more important. So, when requesting a home visit, patients should either be in the most ‘at risk’ category relating to Covid-19 (i.e. ‘shielding’, with a letter from the government telling them to stay in their home) or should be truly housebound.
Except those cases when one might become acutely incapacitated, we would expect anyone requesting a home visit to have been genuinely shielded, in their home, in recent weeks. This is very important, as we need to protect other vulnerable patients from the inadvertent spread of Covid-19 – and our coming into your home, if you have been ‘out and about’ put other patients in the community at risk.
We ask all other patients, who require contact with a doctor or nurse, to please come to the surgery. We cannot offer home visits to people whose preference is merely to stay indoors; home visits will be reserved for truly shielding patients and those who are genuinely housebound or acutely incapacitated.
Our ‘pre-Covid-19’ threshold for agreeing to home visits has had to change.
You can be assured that it is safe for you to attend the surgery, be that, for blood tests, injections or other matters. We have very strict measures in place to make ours a coronavirus free surgery. Our triaging system ensures that we now speak to all patients before inviting them in to the surgery.
Please also be assured that we would never bring anyone with possible Covid-19 symptoms in to our building. Everyone is screened for possible symptoms and would be seen at home or directed elsewhere if there was a doubt. Please also play your part and declare any fever or new persistent cough etc when speaking to us, and always bring a face covering if you are asked to come down.
To limit unnecessary footfall, we deal with all we can over the phone and now offer video consultations. This is proving popular and is of mutual benefit.
Furthermore, when it is safe and appropriate to do so, we can carry out blood tests or injections in your car or outside the building in the fresh air. This can be discussed when making your appointment with the nurse or health care assistant.
We hope that this explanation helps to justify the necessary changes now in force, all aimed at reducing the risk of further coronavirus spread in our community and allowing us all to concentrate our efforts on those patients whose needs are most urgent, and the most vulnerable.
Thank you again for your patience and understanding as we all adjust to a new way of working.