Just over a year ago NHS England advised all GP practices in England to stop all pre-booked appointments and asked doctors us to speak to all patients on the telephone first and only to see patients face to face that were clinically necessary to stop the spread of Covid 19. This has led to new ways of working in primary care with an increase use of telephone, video and online consultations.
As a practice, we want to make sure that we continue to look after patients the best we can but we can only do so with your help. We have therefore made a few changes to our working practices as detailed below as we continue to manage the increasing demand experienced during this ongoing pandemic.
1. Same day and pre-bookable telephone / video consultations and same day face to face appointments for medically urgent issues
We would continue to encourage patients to arrange a telephone call with a doctor if it is something that you are confident can be dealt with on the phone and will not need an examination in person. If you speak to a doctor on the telephone or by video call and they feel it is clinically necessary for them to see you, then they will offer you a face to face appointment – this has never been limited and doctors have continued to see patients daily face to face throughout the pandemic.
Sometimes a telephone call can be sufficient first if initial blood tests or x-rays might be needed and these can be arranged in advance of a face-to-face review.
We would therefore ask that when you contact the surgery that you provide as much information as you can to the receptionist regarding your concern to enable them to direct you to the best person to help you. This may not always be your Doctor, but they will be available if required. This will enable them to book you in or direct you to a person or service that can help much faster, for example a community pharmacist or the social prescriber. You may also be directed to the increasing number of self-refer services – physiotherapy, mental health support and podiatry for example. We would like to reassure you that all receptionists are bound by confidentiality and are here to help you.
2. Pre-bookable telephone and face to face consultations for routine issues:
If you prefer and feel if it is more appropriate clinically, then from Monday 28th June 2021 the receptionist can book you a routine face-to-face appointment or routine telephone call with a GP and these can be booked ahead up to 4 weeks in advance. The number of pre-bookable face to face GP appointments available does reflect the need that we ensure infection control procedures and social distancing rules are maintained and that we limit the number of people sat in the waiting room.
The usual exclusions would apply for anyone attending the surgery building in that if you have current COVID symptoms or concerns such as a temperature, new, persistent cough or change in sense of taste or smell or develop this prior to the appointment, you alert us and do not attend the surgery. We can arrange another means of communication or advice.
3. Online consultations for routine issues via the practice website: www.fairfordsurgery.co.uk
You can contact us online for routine issues with a GP, Nurse or an administration query via the practice website and selecting the “Consulting Room” tile.
Our nurses have continued to see patients for face to face appointments for dressings, immunisations, smears, and carrying out blood tests throughout the pandemic. They continue to monitor long term condition reviews for all patients by telephone or by face to face if that is more appropriate.
We would like to thank you for your continued support, patience and understanding during what has been a difficult period in the health service.
Hilary Cottage Surgery