Practice update July 2020
The impact of coronavirus on General Practice has been huge. All our routine care stopped, except vaccinations. All new illnesses have had to be assessed by phone and by video, and all coronavirus cases have been looked after by a special GP and nurse team, the COVID Medical Service. We have worked across the town to deliver care from three sites.
All our staff have learnt new roles and our patients have become tech wizards, sending us photos and videos.
I’ve been so impressed at how well all the staff and patients have adapted and worked together to find innovative ways forward.
Since no one was socialising and the schools were closed, all the usual spring bugs and infections stopped. There were fewer car accidents, and fewer injuries at work and in sport. But there was coronavirus, and there has been a lot of anxiety and distress in people’s lives because of it. Those who caught the virus did not describe it as a trivial infection at all, but thankfully the vast majority have come through it without lasting damage. For now, it seems to have paused, and we can start to pick up where we left off in March.
We have to start resuming some routine care, while still keeping the footfall in the practices as low as possible, so we don’t become a source of infection for our patients or our staff.
If you are asked to come in, please come alone if you can and wear a mask. Don’t come if you have a temperature that day, and please tell us before you come if a household member has COVID. We will see you in a special zone.
The cervical smear programme has restarted for those most in need, so if you have had a letter in the last month then contact your practice for an appointment. We expect that those who missed out in the last few months will be recalled over the next year. For those women who had their contraceptive injections changed, you may get a call to suggest a newer alternative that you can do yourself, or a check up by phone for the pill you were swapped to.
We are starting to call patients in for overdue blood tests, particularly those on high risk medications. Even if you are Shielded, you are safe to come for these. We have a special quiet hour at the beginning of the day just for Shielded patients. We also will call in those with quite severe chronic kidney disease for their blood test too. We will start other routine blood tests as time goes on.
Your practice nurse or GP is likely to phone you to monitor any long term conditions you may have. If you have a blood pressure machine, an oxygen meter, or blood glucose meter then check your readings at home, as that will help us. You may find you are sent a questionnaire to your mobile phone about asthma or COPD. If you answer this the results go straight into your notes for your GP or nurse to see.
You may get a call from your Practice Clinical Pharmacist if you are due for a review of your arthritis pain medication, or other bone and joint conditions, and if you have mental health problems, or problems other than the conditions mentioned above, then your usual GP’s are all still here, and you can book phone calls with them.
The most important thing this autumn is the ‘flu vaccination programme. We really need everyone who should have the vaccine to come early for it. We must avoid a ‘flu epidemic this year as it will be so difficult to distinguish it from a resurgence of the pandemic coronavirus. We are expecting the Department of Health to say everyone over 50 should have it this year, although this is not confirmed yet. This is in addition to all those with long term conditions, and all young children. There are different vaccines for different ages, so you may find you are invited to a specific clinic this year.
As time goes on we expect the hospital clinics to restart, but the priority will still be the suspected cancer cases, so expect significant delays for non-urgent hospital referrals. We GP’s have no control over the hospital booking systems, so if you think you have been missed contact your Consultant’s secretary rather than us please.
We hope we can get as much routine care delivered as possible in the summer months, before the picture is complicated again in the autumn by seasonal infections that may or may not be a restarting of coronavirus cases. I expect we will have to stop some routine care again when the cases of COVID rise again. It seems less likely that we will have a “second peak”, but more that we will have rolling hills of coronavirus, and so will have to hold back and then restart a few times to get through this.
The advice from the beginning of this still stands. Wash your hands, cover your coughs, stay home if you or a household member are unwell. But now, resume other health care, see family and friends, restart your life again, with care.
Dr Susanna Panton
There are many vulnerable people in the community who are self-isolating. Here2Help can provide help, volunteer and find useful resources. They can be contacted via www.worcestershire.gov.uk/here2help or telephone 01905 768053
The page also provides many useful links for those and their families at home following Government advice.
Return to school or work advice
Unfortunately, our GPs cannot advise you regarding returning to work and / or your children returning to school. If you have any queries or questions please contact the school, your employer or visit the gov.uk website for advice. The link for guidance and support on these matters is https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Thank you for patience at this difficult time.
Coronavirus scam calls and texts
The practice has received reports of scam calls and texts relating to the coronavirus or COVID19.
Scammers are calling phones and sending texts which contain misinformation or could leave you out of pocket if you fall victim. The call or text claims to be from the practice. The government, the NHS or even the WHO. These bogus calls or texts put you at risk of identity theft or financial loss.
When the practice calls a patient the number 01905772389 will appear on your display or if you are concerned you can end the call and ring the practice back on the number 01905772389.
For more information please https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/features-and-news/coronavirus-scam-calls-and-texts
For up to date information regarding COVID-19 and healthcare in the Droitwich and Ombersley area - please visit and follow the Facebook page D&O Primary Care Network or @DOPrimaryCare
Easy read COVID-19 information
For information regarding COVID-19 in an easy to read format please click on Information about COVID-19
GP Healthcare delivery in Droitwich for the time being 27.3.2020
Everything in healthcare is changing at the moment, and as General Practice is the first point of contact for most people, this is where you may see it first.
NHS England have asked all GP practices to work collaboratively so that resources are used effectively, and as many people cared for as can be.
Many patients have been discharged early from hospitals to free up space, and GP’s are picking up that care too.
In order to keep as many staff members working as we can, the NHS has prioritised protecting its staff from infection. For that reason you have been asked not to attend you GP surgery unless you have been instructed to do so by your practice.
The three GP practices in Droitwich and the practice in Ombersley are already working together as a Primary Care Network. We will extend this to ensure we can deliver the necessary care across the Network during the COVID 19 pandemic, in conjunction with the District Nursing team. We will set up phone consultations for almost all care, with the GP’s, the Practice Nurses, the Clinical Pharmacists and the Nurse Practitioners. Sometimes we will then ask you to attend to be examined. This may be at your surgery to begin with, but may be at one of the other surgeries in the Network as time goes on.
For now, we will aim to have you examined by a GP from your own Practice, even if you are seen at a different surgery. The doctor or nurse you see will be wearing protective clothing, whatever you have come for, and receptionists will too.
We will do fewer home visits than in the past, so fewer staff are exposed to infection.
If you haven’t signed up for electronic prescriptions please do so, as this means that you don’t need to come into your practice to request or collect prescriptions.
In line with NHS guidance we will stop routine monitoring work for long term conditions, but if you think your long term condition has deteriorated then book a phone call with your GP.
The NHS has suggested we stop the cervical smear programme for now, but vaccination programmes continue to be vitally important. If you know you are overdue a vaccination, please contact your surgery for this. It would be dreadful if we allowed a separate infection wave to start, because we haven’t kept up with routine immunisation.
All the GP’s, Practice Nurses and staff in Droitwich and Ombersley practices will continue to work together in this way until the pandemic threat reduces.
We have been made aware of some inaccurate information circulating (especially on social media) regarding special ‘rescue packs’ of antibiotics and oral steroids for patients with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or even for those who don’t have these conditions).
We would like to reassure you that patients who suffer with severe respiratory conditions already have these in place (along with the instructions how to use them). Oral steroids are powerful medicines and any decision to use them would need careful evaluation by a prescriber, usually a doctor or respiratory specialist nurse.
Please do not contact your GP practice for a rescue pack unless this is something that has been previously agreed and prescribed by your medical team. You should continue to manage your condition in the usual way and if you feel you have symptoms of COVID-19, go to https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 or call 111 (online services should be used as a first choice) before doing anything else.
Please note that this is current advice (as of 23rd March) and guidance around use of rescue packs may change as things progress.
Medical Certification requests during Coronavirus
We are currently receiving a high volume of requests for notes related to coronavirus [Covid-19]. Those that are sick can self-certify for seven days and should not involve the GP. They will be able to use NHS online to certify as well.
Those that are not ill may still need to self -isolate or be unable to attend work. Guidance is available on line for employers and employees:
“employers to respect the need to stay at home where they are following government advice”
Employers should not need certification from a GP.
Your employee may need to be absent from work. The reason for this is that they are following current Government and/or Public Health advice related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Specifically, this is because of one of the following reasons:
- They are symptomatic
- They are symptomatic for longer than seven days
- They are a household contact without symptoms who is required to self-isolate (14 days at time of writing but can be longer. Check the NHS coronavirus website for the current rules)
- They are a high risk patients who is unable to work. We expect employers to have carried out risk assessments to address this matter themselves
We are prioritising the urgent medical needs of our patients and will not be providing a medical certificate for this absence.
By law employers may use their discretion around the need for medical evidence if an employee is absent from work for more than seven days due to sickness. We would ask you to apply this discretion to help support NHS general practice provide care for our population rather than being asked to fulfil unnecessary administrative tasks.
Should legal action arise on the grounds of medical certification relating to the coronavirus pandemic we would be able to provide evidence.
Many thanks for your assistance during this challenging time.
Wuhan novel coronavirus: Information for the public
As of 9am on 9th March 2020, 24,960 people have been tested in the UK, of which 24,641 were confirmed negative and 319 were confirmed as positive.
Returning travellers – STAY INDOORS and avoid contact with other people if you’ve travelled to the UK from the following places in the last 14 days, even if you do not have symptoms: Iran, Hubei province in China, Special care zones in South Korea (Daegu, Cheongdo. Gyeongsan)
Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if you’ve travelled to the UK from the following places, even if you do not have symptoms: Italy (since 9th March)
Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if you’ve travelled to the UK from the following places in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath, even if your symptoms are mild: mainland China (outside Hubei province), South Korea outside of special care zones, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
DO NOT GO TO A GP SURGERY, PHARMACY OR HOSPITAL
CONTACT EITHER 111 ONLINE OR PHONE 111 IF ADVISED TO DO SO
12.03.2020 We have currently disabled the option to book appointments through Patient Partner or online - to book an appointment or a telephone call if you prefer please telephone the practice on 01905 772389 option 3.