Mobile GPs on their way to a town near you

Additional GPs will be stepping on board the Doncaster Health Bus this week in a bid to make it easier and more convenient for patients to access local health and care services.

Earlier this year, the health bus was a hit across Doncaster with more than 500 people being able to see a GP or nurse at a time and place convenient to them in just a two week period.

In response to patient feedback and following conversations with local practices, Primary Care Doncaster and NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are investing in and providing the health bus as an additional way of patients having an appointment with a local GP.

Patients across Doncaster will be able to turn up at the health bus on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at various locations across the borough, which will be parked in easily accessible locations from 9:00am to 4:30pm.

The health bus will be available every week until the end of March 2021, starting with Asda car park at Carcroft on Wednesday 16 September 2020.

Jackie Pederson, Chief Officer, NHS Doncaster CCG, said: “The health bus was extremely popular earlier this year and so we have reviewed how extra appointments are now provided across the borough.

“Previously, the More Choice, More Appointments service provided extra appointments from dedicated hubs across Doncaster, hosted at four local practices. As a trial in February this year, just before the Coronavirus pandemic took hold, we decided to take these appointments to the road, in an attempt to try a different way of providing appointments.

“The health bus is just one of a number of ways in which extra appointments can be accessed and I hope providing appointments in this way will continue to be welcomed by Doncaster patients.”

Patients should always try and get an appointment with their local practice before using the health bus. If they need to see a GP and can’t get an appointment, patients will need to adhere to social distancing and comply with guidelines at all times.

Staff on board and outside the bus will be wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment for their safety and the safety of others.

Patients will be triaged for Coronavirus symptoms whilst they are queuing to see the GP on board the health bus which will involve:

  • A series of questions asked to the patient, to check if they haven’t got a new, continuous cough and they haven’t lost their sense of taste or smell
  • Patients will also have their temperature taken as a final assessment as to whether they can see the GP on board.

Whilst queuing, patients will be given a mask to wear and asked to stay 2 metres away from other people; they will also be given hand sanitiser whilst queuing and before boarding the bus.

If patients fail any element of the screening test, the GP on board will speak with the individual and advise them to immediately self-isolate, along with anyone else they live with and take a test. If the patient needs to be seen, they will be invited, like any other patient triaged at a local practice in Doncaster to attend the dedicated Coronavirus Coordination Hub where GPs, nurses and staff will be waiting to see and treat the individual with suspected or confirmed Coronavirus.

Laura Sherburn, Chief Executive of Primary Care Doncaster, said: “We have worked very closely with GPs, local practices and Primary Care Networks in Doncaster to ensure that primary care services are available to patients as and when they need them.

“In addition to this, we have worked closely with clinical members of staff to ensure that the health bus is a safe environment for patients and members of staff.

“A one way system will be in operation on board the health bus and strict guidelines will be followed.

“Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, as always, we are committed to providing safe, quality services to patients and this is one example of how we are bringing additional health services that were previously stopped back into operation, albeit in a safe, managed way.

“Patients will need to wait slightly longer to see a GP as the bus will need to be regularly cleaned; but we are excited to bring back this previously well-used service.”

In addition to the health bus, three hubs will also operate across the borough from Saturday 3 October 2020 to provide additional Saturday morning appointments. These appointments will be bookable in advance through your registered local practice and available to everyone in Doncaster, so if you can’t get an appointment during the week, ask your local practice receptionist about the More Choice More Appointments Saturday morning appointments and they will be able to book an appointment, in advance for you.

The three hubs where patients will be able to see a GP and/or nurse on a Saturday morning are:

  • Tickhill practice – Doncaster North
  • Conisbrough practice – Doncaster South
  • Lakeside practice – Doncaster Central.

Dr Rumit Shah, local GP and Clinical Director for Doncaster East Primary Network, said: “Following analysis of the Saturday morning hub for appointments over the last 18 months, it was clear that the hub for Doncaster East wasn’t being used by patients across the area.

“We found that more people in the Doncaster East area overall need and have been using First2Physio appointments as opposed to general appointments to see a GP or nurse so rather than have more general appointments available, we have responded to local demand and ensured that more First2Physio appointments are available to patients across our network.

“As with all the additional appointments to improve access to GPs across the borough, we will continue to review usage of these appointments and if needed, we can review the offer and amend where necessary.”

Dr David Crichton, local GP and Clinical Chair, NHS Doncaster CCG, said: “I am pleased that the health bus was well received earlier this year and it is great to see it being brought back to use by popular demand.

“Local practices use online and telephone consultation as an initial way of addressing patient needs and providing treatment, the health bus has additional staff to be able to greet patient in a safe way, outside, before they are asked to come on board for a consultation.

“I would encourage all registered patients in Doncaster to use and speak with their usual practice first to see if they can get an appointment.

“If that’s not possible, that’s when people should consider the health bus, there are also other services available from the Doncaster Same Day Health Centre and Urgent Treatment Centre.”

The health bus will be at Carcroft Asda:

  • Wednesday 16 September
  • Thursday 17 September
  • Friday 18 September

And the following week (Carcroft Asda):

  • Wednesday 23 September
  • Thursday 24 September
  • Friday 25 September

A full rota for each week will be finalised in the coming weeks and will cover key locations across the borough; this will start with Carcroft and as other key car parks are identified, they will be added and shared on NHS Doncaster CCG’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

This rota will then become fixed, rotating on a week by week basis until the end of March 2021.

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