Forest GP Surgeries – Coronavirus Update w/c 23 March 2020
Following last week’s information, Forest of Dean Surgeries continue to manage the unfolding Coronavirus crisis together; please do not go into your Surgery if you have any symptoms of Covid-19 or you are self-isolating – patients who do attend will be asked to leave immediately. Whilst trying to reduce the footfall in the Surgeries we are all trying to protect our staff so we can continue to offer the services patients need. Patients are urged to continue checking the www.nhs.uk/coronavirus website if they believe they have symptoms. Your local Surgery will also have information on their website – please check that too.
All Surgery staff have been working flat out to prepare for Covid-19 and to continue delivering services to patients. Surgeries have experienced abuse of the repeat medication request system with patients continuing to request their medication early and ordering inhalers when they do not need them. There is no clinical evidence to suggest an inhaler will help if you catch the Coronavirus. If you have not had an inhaler recently then you will not get one to keep ‘just in case’. Inhalers are for people who have a proper diagnosis of asthma or COPD only. At the end of last week we also saw a FaceBook hoax relating to issuing ‘rescue packs’ to those with respiratory disease; please do not contact your Surgery about this. Early and over ordering of repeat medication is our equivalent of the panic buying we have seen – it is causing chaos in our Surgeries, local Community Pharmacies and extending the time it takes to process and make up prescriptions. There will be plenty of medication to go around. We urge patients to check their Surgery website for information of any changes. For those who pay for their prescriptions, please consider purchasing a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) – this could help you save money if you have more than 1 prescribed medicine per month. Please see the link www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/ppc for more details and options on purchasing a certificate for 3 or 12 months (direct debit options are available). This will also reduce the contact you will need with Surgery and local Community Pharmacy dispensing staff and you won’t need to worry about payment if your medicines are delivered to you as the situation develops.
As a reminder, Surgeries are running emergency telephone consultations only and patients will be invited in if they need to be seen. In most cases, what’s needed can be dealt with over the telephone. This is the agreed way forward in Gloucestershire for managing demand during this extraordinary time, patients are reminded to be respectful of the staff they are in contact with – staff are working within the parameters agreed at this stage. Forest of Dean GPs continue to work with Gloucestershire CCG to establish emergency solutions to staff shortages and/or temporary Surgery closures. More news to follow.
The Government has announced they are providing guidance on shielding and protecting those who fall into the extremely vulnerable group and are at high risk of severe illness from Coronavirus. Those affected will receive a letter or text message, this may not be sent by your Surgery – please do not telephone your Surgery. It is expected that letters will start to go out to those who need one during this week. Full current guidance on shielding can be found at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
Visit www.111.nhs.uk/isolation-note to obtain an isolation note for your employer if you need to stay at home because of Coronavirus. If patients have to stay at home but feel well enough to work, ask employers if you can work from home – if working from home you will not need an isolation note. You can also use this service for someone else. GP Surgeries will not provide this for you.
Telephone lines and Surgery staff are all incredibly busy – please be flexible with us, we are doing our very best to help you. The situation is changing rapidly; please always check your own Surgery website or FaceBook page if they have one for the latest information.
We would also like to thank those patients who are supporting their local Surgery and to the Forest of Dean communities pulling together to help the vulnerable.
Coronavirus – Forest of Dean Surgeries – News article 18/3/20
The 11 GP Surgeries in the Forest of Dean are working closely to manage the emerging Coronavirus crisis. They are all in agreement and are working together to deliver a consistent service to the Dean’s population.
Surgeries are taking a proactive approach in reducing the ‘footfall’ through their premises. Patients should still seek general advice on Coronavirus by checking www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
If you or a household member has a new or persistent cough or a fever (37.8 degrees or higher) you are asked to self-isolate to protect others and stop the spread in the community. Please see the website above for up-to-date information.
Local Forest of Dean Surgeries are trying to protect patients by:
- Only carrying out essential and emergency treatment – this means routine appointments have now ceased.
- Carrying out as much work as possible by telephone, this means almost all face-to-face consultations stopping. You will be triaged and phoned by the most appropriate clinician; many GPs are doing this and phoning patients to discuss what they need.
- Contacting patients over the coming days to cancel non urgent nurse appointments, to discuss appropriate next steps and whether patients should attend the Surgery as scheduled
- Asking patients to see their Surgery website or notices at the Surgery regarding routine repeat medication ordering. Surgeries are under a great deal of pressure and patients are urged not to over order nor order items such as inhalers they have not routinely been using. Local Surgeries saw a huge soar in request for these on Monday.
- GP surgeries are working together to establish ‘hub’ sites across the Forest of Dean to see patients if any Surgery has to close for a short while or if local health needs change. You may be asked to go to another Surgery for your appointment.
- If you are unwell you will be seen. It is likely the Doctor will be wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). When you are invited in for the appointment you may be instructed on where you are being seen, which part of the Surgery you should use and you may have to wait in your car until you are called in when your appointment is due. These are examples of the measures in place to protect you and reduce the number of patients coming into contact in the Surgeries at any one time.
Pregnant women with questions regarding their care should contact their local midwife team (the local number can be found on the maternity notes).
It is important to remember that this is a fast evolving situation; the 11 Forest of Dean Surgeries are working closely with all agencies, working together and bringing you the most up-to-date information. We are grateful for the co-operation of patients to date and ask that patients:
- Only contact your Surgery if it is an urgent problem – telephone lines are very busy and staff are dealing with a high level of calls – your call will be answered but it may take a little longer. You may be able to resolve your query by referring to the many useful websites such as your own Surgery website, www.forestgpsurgeries.co.uk, NHS 111 or www.gov.uk
- Do not come into the Surgery, please stay away. You can order your medication on line or drop your repeat medication requests into the external boxes if your Surgery has them. Again, please see your Surgery website for online ordering details. Busy staff are trying to keep up with demand for medication, again please do not over order, just order what you need.
- Please be patient with staff. Everyone is working to their best ability to cope with this crisis, please be respectful to all our Surgery staff. Some local staff have experienced abusive behaviour – please stop! Staff are trying to help you.
Local community groups and Churches are coming together to help the vulnerable, please keep an eye out on what is happening in your local area or get involved to help others.
Forest of Dean Surgeries are committed to bringing the best care under these challenging circumstances, please help us to help you.
17 March 2020