We thought that it would be useful to reflect on where we are as a practice as we continue to move through managing the Coronavirus pandemic. We want to show you how we have adapted and expanded the services that we offer our patients.
Like all other practices in the country we followed Government advice a year ago and started speaking to patients on the telephone as the first point of contact to reduce the risk of transmitting Covid. No one expected a global pandemic to force us and the rest of the NHS to make such big changes so quickly.
Despite what you might have read in the papers regarding General Practice ‘closing down’, Cirencester Health Group has never stopped offering face to face appointments, when appropriate to the clinical circumstances.
Because we were told to reduce face to face contacts we have developed an expanded range of ways that patients can access the practice, including:
- Same on day telephone appointments for routine care
- A rapid response to urgent problems, from our duty doctors
- Pre bookable telephone appointments – 7 to 14 days in advance
- Face to face appointments with the doctors when required clinically – this is for the doctor and the patient to determine between them
Our nurses continued to see patients face to face when necessary for dressings and injections and we have introduced a phlebotomy (blood taking) service in the practice during the pandemic too. We concentrated long term condition reviews for those most at need during the pandemic and are now catching up monitoring long term condition reviews for all patients throughout the next year by telephone or face to face if that is more appropriate.
The frailty team continue and indeed never stopped visiting patients at home throughout lockdown.
In addition to the above services, we introduced multiple additional ways for our patients to access care:
- Video consultations
- email access
- Interactive text conversations
- Direct access to a clinical pharmacist
- Access to a ‘Care coordinator’
We have plans to further expand our team and improve the quality of services we provide.
We are now facing unprecedented demand and to satisfy this increase whilst ensuring the quality of clinical care we deliver means you may experience changes in the way that things are done.
There will be a telephone call prior to ‘most/many’ face to face appointments
We promise you that we will always see a patient face to face when it is clinically appropriate to do so or there are other pertinent reasons.
Your telephone call may lead to a video consultation if appropriate.
We will be arranging investigations first before face to face appointments to ensure we have all the relevant information to assist in your treatment plan.
The GP is not the only answer or indeed always the best person to answer many questions or conditions that patients present with – Patients will therefore be re-directed to alternative professionals and services inside or outside the practice as the first point of care/advice when it is the best thing to do.
Due to this you will find that the receptionists may well ask you more questions than you may be used to. They are covered by confidentiality rules and by answering the questions it will allow them to book you in or direct you to a person or service that can help much faster, for example a community pharmacist or the social prescriber. You may also be directed to the increasing number of self-refer services – physiotherapy, mental health support and podiatry for example.
We want to make sure that we continue to look after you as best we can but we can only do so with your help.
As the pandemic has not completely disappeared we need to ensure we all remain safe and to ensure infection control measures and social distancing are still maintained, we need to take more precautions than shops and hospitality due to the vulnerability of some of our patients so we thank you for your continued support, patience and understanding during what has been a difficult period.
On behalf of The Partners at Cirencester Health Group