New Ways of Working for GP practices - Open and providing services
The threat of infection from Covid-19 still exists within our communities, and locally, patients are being asked to continue to follow the guidance, stick to any restrictions in place and take the necessary precautions such as wearing face coverings and practicing good hygiene.
We, like all other GP practices, are open and continue to provide services for our patients as we have done throughout the pandemic. GP practices are public buildings and as such must be kept Covid-19 secure. We already have a process in place for managing entry into the premises to help minimise the risk of anybody spreading the virus.
Please continue to follow this.
New ways of providing GP services have been introduced in order to maintain access to your GP practice team whilst protecting you, others and staff.
Triage (making an assessment of your condition and prioritising care accordingly) is an important part of how GP practices work. This has always been in place but has been vitally important during the pandemic.
GP practices have learned during the pandemic, that they can conduct consultations very well with the vast majority of patients using digital technology. The majority of common conditions can be assessed and diagnosed by your Doctor by telephone or video consultation. They are experienced and skilled in doing this. Using technology like this will help to protect you, your family and loved ones and GP practice staff from the potential risk of the virus. If your GP feels that your condition needs to be a consultation in a face-to-face appointment then this will be arranged, however this will be a clinical decision by the GP based on their judgement of the absolute need to do so.
These new ways of working provide mutual benefits to patients and your practice which is why before the pandemic we had a plan to start introducing these more frequently. The use of these digital technologies has been shown to improve patient experiences thanks to the convenience and increased access that they provide. GPs want to make sure that these new ways of working and the benefits they bring are not lost. Covid-19 has changed many aspects of our daily lives, with lots of positive changes. These new ways of accessing your GP and receiving care or treatment are just one of those.
Frequently asked questions
Is my GP practice open?
Yes, we are open. You can access GP services from your GP practice. Some of the ‘traditional’ ways of working have been adapted to protect you and staff from the potential risk of coronavirus. For example, how you access your GP practice building or how your appointment is undertaken might be different.
I would like a face-to-face appointment, when can I get this?
Not all conditions need to be seen by your GP in a face to face appointment. Your GP will decide whether or not he or she needs to see you, or whether an alternative consultation is better. When contacting your GP, you will undergo an assessment (called triaging) of your needs and to determine whether you may or may not have Covid-19 symptoms. Based on this assessment your doctor or clinician will determine if you need a face-to-face appointment. If safe and appropriate to do so a member of your practice clinical team may undertake your consultation via telephone or through a video consultation. This will help to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection to you and the practice staff.
How can my condition be properly diagnosed via telephone or video?
Lots of common conditions can be diagnosed using mobile devices, telephone or video thanks to the experience of your GPs and their ability to recognise the signs and symptoms of conditions from the information you provide. However, if they judge that it is safer and more appropriate to organise a face-to-face appointment for you then this will be arranged.
What if I can’t or don’t want to use video technology for an appointment?
If for a number of reasons you aren’t able to have an appointment via video technology then your GP will arrange an alternative option – this will more than likely initially be via a phone call.
Can I still access other services from my surgery?
Many services such as vaccination programmes for child and baby immunisations and hormone injections for patients with prostate cancer have remained in place throughout the pandemic. If you are unsure what the arrangements are, please contact us directly.
Before you attend your appointment, you will be assessed to see if you have any symptoms of covid-19. The helps keep you, other patients and practice staff safe.
Face Mask Exemption requests
Following the previous release of government guidance regarding the wearing of face masks in various public settings such as when travelling (including in circumstances where an individual might be exempt), practices reported an influx of requests for letters of exemption.
The current government guidance on this suggests there is no requirement for evidence for exemption, therefore, it should be sufficient for an individual to self-declare this in most cases. Practices are not required to provide letters of support for those who fall under the list of exemptions. For example, the responsibility for issuing exemptions in relation to travel is with the transport provider, not GPs – see for example, this information from First Bus and Arriva.
We are not aware of the government updating their position re how to manage exemptions in relation to mandatory face masks in shops but thought it would be helpful to reiterate previous advice as outlined above.
We will keep practices informed of any updates.
Use of Face Mask for Appointments
If you have been asked to attend an appointment at the surgery we ask that you wear a face covering, this can be a scarf or a face mask. If you do not have a suitable face covering we will supply you with one when you arrive.
This applies to all patient’s aged over 5 years old.
Important Please Read
We have currently suspended the ability to book online face to face appointments whilst COVID-19 is in place, following guidelines from the BMA. When this has been lifted we will have an update here to inform you that the appointments are again bookable. Thank you for your patience.