The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is arguably one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, not least for general practice where over one million patients are seen and treated every day, that means In a normal week in England, between 5 and 6 million patients will have an interaction with their local practice and traditionally 80% of those appointments will be face to face at the surgery/health centre premises.
The pandemic has made us look at how we provide services to protect our patients and staff, so the majority of consultations are now over the telephone or using online methods and video. If a patient needs to be seen and they don’t have symptoms of COVID-19, they will be invited in to the practice to see a GP or Nurse. This is particularly important for patients that have more urgent health issues such as suspected cancer symptoms, severe abdominal pain or heart disease.
If a patient does have symptoms of coronavirus and needs to see a healthcare professional for another health condition for example, there is an alternative service available. We have set up a new facility in Doncaster which is dedicated to treating patients in a safe environment. So even if you have COVID-19 symptoms, we can still provide help and support on a range of health issues.
I would encourage patients to make contact if they are worried about their health or that of a relative. Don’t be fearful. We are here to help and guide you and if you need to visit your practice or the new facility, staff will be wearing appropriate personal protective equipment to ensure your safety and wellbeing as well as their own.
We understand that people have been asked by the government to stay at home to protect the NHS and to save lives. As a result, people are worried that if they go outside they may catch the virus or that they may add to the burden on the over-stretched NHS. This fear also means that people may be putting off ongoing symptoms and signs unconnected to coronavirus. – we want to avoid missing serious conditions like; heart disease, early diabetes or cancers. We also don’t want necessary treatments to be delayed so I’m asking you all to think about your health and if you need to speak to someone, please don’t be afraid to ask.
I am pleased that more patients are starting to seek help for health concerns and medical conditions again. I’ve certainly seen an increase in patients calling our practice where we are usually support them over the phone.
We are there for you, if you have any physical or mental health concerns or need health related advice; visit 111 on-line, the practice website, speak to your chemist or contact your local practice and speak to someone. You will be advised how they can help, be that a phone call with a Nurse Practitioner, an online consultation with a GP or a visit to the new facility.
Services are open and available to support your health needs, they may just be different to how you have experienced them before.