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Covid-19 Antibody Testing

Many patients are keen to know whether they have already had COVID-19. At the end of May the government announced the availability for antibody testing for COVID-19 and that this would be available to the public.

There are two different types of test for COVID-19: a swab test which is taken when you have symptoms and tells you whether you have the virus right now; and an antibody test which is a blood taken when you are well  which tells you whether you have had COVID-19 in the past. This infographic explains the difference.

What does it mean if the antibody test result is positive?

A positive antibody test will tell you whether you’ve previously had the virus that causes COVID-19 and that your body has produced an immune response.

There is no strong evidence yet to suggest that those who have been proven to have had the virus and to have produced antibodies are immune.

If you receive a positive antibody result it does not mean that you’re immune, or that you cannot pass on the virus to others. It also does not mean that you can ignore social distancing measures.

Our understanding of the virus will grow as new scientific evidence and studies emerge. COVID-19 is a new disease, and our understanding of the body’s immune response to it is limited. We do not know, for example, how long an antibody response lasts, whether the antibodies produced are effective in neutralising the virus, or whether having antibodies means a person cannot transmit the virus to others.

In time, as the science develops and our understanding of the disease increases, we will have answers to these questions.

Can I have an antibody test now?

The governments antibody testing is at an early stage so priority is currently being given to certain groups.

The guidance in South West London is that an antibody test should only be offered to:

  •  Front line staff working in the NHS
  • To patients already having a blood test for other reasons who wish this test to be added
  • Where a clinician feels that the test is clinically relevant

It is important to reiterate that the science is currently uncertain and a positive test result for antibodies only means than an individual has had COVID-19. There is currently no evidence to show it means someone cannot be re-infected with the virus, or pass it on to others, or have protective immunity.

If you are a member of front line NHS staff OR you are already having a blood test and wish to have a COVID-19 antibody test added then Nelson Medical Practice can arrange this for you. If these conditions to not apply then we are not able to arrange a test at this time.

It is important to note that all anonymised test result are shared with Public Health England as part of the pandemic monitoring process.

How does testing work?

If you are a member of front line NHS staff or you are already having a blood test and wish to have a COVID-19 antibody test added to your request please contact us.

Once a form is ready you will receive a text message. You need to collect this from the practice’s  reception on the first floor. You don’t need an appointment to attend for a blood test on the ground floor at the Nelson Health Centre. Blood testing is open 08.00 – 15.30 Monday to Friday and 08.00 – 13.30 Saturday. Please wear a face covering and ensure social distancing whilst you wait.

YOU SHOULD NOT COLLECT A BLOOD FORM OR ATTEND FOR A BLOOD TEST IF YOU OR A MEMBER OF YOUR HOUSEHOLD HAVE SYMPTOMS OF FEVER, COUGH OR LOSS OF SENSE OF SMELL.

If you have symptoms your whole household needs to isolate and you can contact NHS 111 Online for advice and to arrange a SWAB test.

Once your blood test result is available you will receive it by text message. Please allow 5 working days for your result. If you have not heard after this, please contact the practice on 020 3826 0826.

Whatever your test result it is very important that you continue to follow all government guidance around social distancing. Whatever your test result, if you develop symptoms of fever, cough or loss of sense of smell your whole household needs to and you can contact NHS 111 Online for advice and to arrange a SWAB test.

The Nelson Medical Practice – Update on our current services

These last few months have been challenging for us all. We’ve been adapting our building and our ways of working to serve our patients whilst keeping them as safe as we can from coronavirus. We have been so grateful for the patience and support our patients have shown our whole team through your claps and your kind words, thank you.

As we prepare for the months ahead we wanted to let you know what changes you can expect when you contact us and how you can help us to help you during this challenging time.

Keeping you safe

Like GP practices and hospitals all over the UK we are seeking to manage as many patients as we can at home without having to come to a health centre. This keeps you and us safe, and also has many benefits in terms of convenience too. However not all problems can be managed this way which is why we have doctors and nurses here in the building following strict infection control measures to keep you as safe as possible if you need to come for an appointment in the building.

We know that the surgery looks and feels a bit different but, please be reassured that this is to maximise the safety of patients and staff. You will find that the doors to the building are locked and you will need to buzz to obtain access. Once inside, barriers and floor markers will help you to maintain strict 2m social distancing. The waiting areas have also been marked so you know where it is safe to sit. You will need to check in with a receptionist rather than the automatic screens. Your clinician will be wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) consisting of an apron, mask, face shield and gloves. They may also be wearing some very snazzy work clothes (“scrubs”) kindly crafted for us by talented local volunteers! You are welcome to wear a face covering too and we would encourage you to do so.

Appointment changes

Our appointments system has changed too. All face-to-face appointments are now managed directly by the practice in order to keep you safe. The default for appointments is for us to consult by telephone or link, however if you need to be seen face-to-face this can be arranged by a clinician when you speak with them. We would ask that you cancel any pre-booked face-to-face appointments should you develop symptoms of Covid-19 or if you are advised to self-isolate.

Our Same Day Team are still available from 08:00 – 18:30 Monday – Friday to deal with clinically urgent problems which need addressing that day. We are now using video calls and two-way text messaging in addition to telephone calls to offer an even more comprehensive service.

We have introduced an entirely new kind of appointment called a Planned Care Appointment. These are pre-booked appointments with a specific doctor at a specified time and can be conducted by phone, video or face to face. Our clinical team or patient care coordinators can book these for review of longstanding conditions or those who most need the continuity of their usual GP.

We have hugely increased our capacity for telephone triage and our phone lines are open 08:00 – 18:30 Monday Friday. If you are unwell outside of these times please contact NHS 111. If it’s an emergency please call 999 or attend the nearest accident and emergency department.

We’ve also expanded the use of our Doctorlink App . Here you can check your symptoms 24 hours a day and if you need to see a doctor you can book a telephone appointment directly through the app.

Other services

There are lots of useful links here on our website which might help you to manage your health at home as well as contacts for other NHS and voluntary organisations who can help.

We are working with our local partners to direct patients with suspected Covid-19 to dedicated clinics and to see those who need to shield in the safety of their own homes.

Blood tests continue to be performed on the ground floor 08:00 – 15:30 Monday to Friday and 08:00 – 13:30 on Saturdays. Some x-rays and scans are also restarting but please ensure that you have an arranged appointment before attending the department.

Helping us help you

There are some things that you can do to help us to help you at this time.

If you think you might have Covid-19 please do NOT come to the surgery, stay at home and first visit NHS 111 Service where you can check your symptoms, arrange a test and print a sick note if needed. If you are finding it difficult to cope with your symptoms you can call 111 and they can arrange for you to be followed up by ourselves or seen in a specialist clinic if needed.

When you call the surgery please give the navigator (receptionist) as much information about your problem as possible – this will allow them to get you the right help. Please ensure that your contact details are up to date and that you have nominated a pharmacy where we can send any prescriptions electronically. Consider downloading the Patient Access app so you can check results and order regular medications using this.

If we are calling you back please ensure your phone is charged up, set to ring and in the area with the best reception. Video calls work best over WiFi. We will send you a link by text, you follow this and will need to enable the mic and camera when asked to do so. If you have a rash or skin lesion consider taking a photograph in good light before we call so that you can text the image to us if needed.

It really helps us if you have some easy to use and inexpensive equipment at home. A thermometer means you can check your temperature and an automated blood pressure machine can be purchased in the pharmacy or online and will also check your pulse. If you have a long-term condition such as diabetes or take regular medications it is often important for us to check your weight so having some bathroom scales is helpful too.

We know that advice is changing fast and it can be confusing. We want to reassure you that we are here to help and working hard to keep everyone safe. We will keep our website and social media feeds regularly updated so please do follow us or check back regularly.

Stay safe and stay well but remember we are here if you need us.

The Nelson Medical Practice Team

June 2020

Help the fight against COVID 19 PRINCIPLE Trial

PRINCIPLE Trial at The Nelson Medical Practice

The Nelson Medical Practice is supporting vital COVID 19 research. As part of this, we are helping to carry out a national priority research study called PRINCIPLE.

If you have symptoms of COVID 19, are aged 65 or over, OR are aged 50-64 and have an existing health condition, you may be eligible to join this important study.

If you’d like to discuss taking part in PRINCIPLE, please contact us.

Please see www.phctrials.ox.ac.uk/principle-trial for full details of this study.

If you’d like to know more about COVID 19 research and how you can contribute, please visit the Be Part of Research site, www.bepartofresearch.nihr.ac.uk, which is run by the National Institute for Health Research.

Repeat Prescriptions Patient Notice

Dear Patient

In this current climate, we would really appreciate your help in only ordering medication which you require. Please do not stockpile your medication and only order medication which you need currently.

In order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, we would encourage you to order repeat prescriptions remotely where possible. This can be done in a number of ways:

1. If you have signed up to Patient Access, you can order your repeat prescriptions through this portal.

2. You are able to use the online Contact Us facility.

3. You can email us on merccg.enquiriesnelson@nhs.net with your prescription request. Please remember to include your full name, date of birth, address, telephone number and full details of the medicines which you require.

In all cases, please allow 3 working days for your prescription request to be processed.

If you have not already done so, you can nominate your local pharmacy to receive your prescriptions electronically. This will mean that you do not have to come to the surgery to collect your prescription. Please contact your local pharmacy to sign up for this service.

If you are in the “extremely vulnerable group” announced by the government recently, you will receive a letter about this shortly and we will automatically be arranging deliveries of your regular medicines to you; there will be no need for you to order your regular medication.

Similarly, if your local pharmacy normally orders your repeat prescriptions for you, you do not need to take any further action.

Thank you for your understanding and help. Keep well!

Self-isolation Advice

If you have been told to self-isolate, please visit the NHS website for advice on how to do this.

Get an Isolation Note

Use this service if you have to stay at home because of coronavirus and you need a note for your employer.

Before using this service, make sure you have checked the coronavirus advice on the NHS website.

If you have to stay at home but feel well enough to work, ask your employer if you can work from home. If you can work from home, you will not need an isolation note.

You can also use this service for someone else.

NHS 111 Isolation Note

Patient Notice: Increase in Demand Due to Covid-19

Due to rapidly increasing demands and pressure on the NHS we are now implementing measures that will help with the management of the situation. Whilst we are in this period of extreme demand please try to avoid visiting or calling the practice. To help us manage the demand we have altered the way in which patients are able access same day services.

All requests to be seen on the same day will, in the first instance, now have to go through a telephone triage. We have also removed all online directly bookable same day appointments and replaced these with telephone triage slots. Additionally we are asking that patients do not come to the practice to book same day appointments. Those who do will be placed on the call back list and asked to await a call from our Same Day Team.

We do also have the following additional methods of contacting the practice to access assistance which we hope will help with the situation.

DoctorLink

This is an online clinical assessment tool which, if appropriate, also allows a patient to book an appointment at the practice. We are encouraging patients to register on this system now in order that clinical assistance is available without needed to call or attend the practice.

app.doctorlink.com/register

Nelson Medical Practice Contact Us Form

For matters that are less urgent please use our Contact Us form on our website. You can use this for matter such as:

  • General enquiries
  • Medication requests
  • Feedback
  • Medical / Insurance reports
  • SARs
  • Fit notes
  • Private letters
  • Referral enquiries

You can access our Contact Us page online.

Patient Access

This system is available for patients to book appointments, view test results, order repeat medications and view your medical records . If you are not already registered for this service we recommend you do so now. You do not need to attend the practice to register; this can be done online on the Patient Access website.