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. 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! All our non-clinical staff are now wearing face coverings, you will also need to wear a face covering when entering the building.
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.
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