The coronavirus outbreak has proved to be one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, changing so many aspects of our daily lives both at home and at work.
Here in the Doncaster NHS community, we have witnessed and been part of unprecedented and rapid change to ensure the right services are provided to support you all to keep healthy and well.
The pandemic has made us look at how we provide primary care services and I’m sure you will have noticed a few changes. Before the pandemic, 75% of appointments (nationally) were face to face and now the majority of consultations are over the telephone or via online methods and video; this is in order to protect both our patients and staff and to limit the risk of spreading the virus.
If a patient does need to be seen and they don’t have symptoms of coronavirus, they will be invited in to their practice to see a healthcare professional, be that a GP, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Healthcare Assistant, Clinical Pharmacist or other colleagues as part of our wider primary care family. This is particularly important for patients that have more urgent health issues such as suspected cancer symptoms, severe abdominal pain, heart disease or mental health concerns.
If you are invited in for a face to face consultation, please be reassured that all local practices are following strict infection control guidance in order to protect both you and our staff and to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. This includes additional cleaning, wearing personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, aprons, limited or no waiting areas and different entry/exit points to the building. Please bear with practices as they adhere to these strict guidelines and please play your part by following the guidance from your local practice, wearing a face covering and arriving at the correct time.
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 established a new facility in April to enable us to see and treat patients in a safe environment, even if they have coronavirus symptoms. This facility is still open so even if you have symptoms of coronavirus, we can still provide help and support on a range of health issues. Contact your local practice, explain your health needs and that you have symptoms of coronavirus and you will be referred to the hub for advice and if necessary, a face to face appointment.
As a GP, I know that many people, particularly those who have been shielding since March, are nervous about going out to shop, enjoy fresh air, exercise or to seek medical help or to attend a health appointment. Please be reassured that health services are available to you both online and face to face and safety measures have been put in place in all health settings – local practices, hospitals and pharmacies – to keep you and our staff safe.
We want to avoid missing serious conditions like heart disease, early diabetes or cancers so don’t sit at home worrying about your health. We are here for you so 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 one of our Care Navigators. 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.
Sources of support and advice:
- NHS 111 – visit online or call to speak to someone
- Your GP Practice – visit their website or call them. You will be advised how they can help and will be reassured.
- Your local pharmacist Doncaster CCG website – Accessing NHS services; Shielding and support
- NHS Health at home – useful information on how to easily access NHS services online, from the comfort of your home. You can find out how to contact your GP, order repeat prescriptions and manage your wellbeing and existing conditions – without leaving your home.