Since our latest update in June 2020 the Government have downgraded the Coronavirus pandemic from level 4 to level 3. This signifies that the virus remains in general circulation with localised outbreaks likely to occur.
Despite the Government relaxing several restrictions in the wider community the NHS is opening up some services but in a cautious way. Hospitals have begun to work through their backlog of referrals and other elective care (operations). Highparks Medical Practice has remained open throughout the lockdown despite some restrictions being imposed nationally.
We are continuing to provide face to face GP consultations however it will require a call with the GP first as the Practice is only inviting patients in when the GP has assessed it is clinically appropriate to do so. Our nursing team have been providing face to face consultation with patients throughout, dressed in full protective equipment even during the heat wave. They are providing blood tests, monitoring of patients with long term conditions (diabetes, asthma, COPD, hypertension etc), child immunisations and cervical screening. There have been some services that the NHS has stopped that include minor operations, travel vaccinations and ear syringing. However we are constantly reviewing national guidance and as soon as things change we will update our Practice website.
There have been several comments from patients regarding our surgery sites and when are sites returning to normal. The Practice put plans in place to consolidate its resources (staff and equipment) into two of its four sites. The purpose of this was to provide the Practice with greater flexibility to backfill staff who may have been self-isolating or shielding in order to maintain services in a safe way for patients and staff. We appreciate that this has been challenging for some patients however it has been the safest way to operate under these difficult conditions.
Despite society attempting to get back to some normality the Practice has revisited its risk assessment and decided to continue to provide the majority of its services from Cliffe Woods and Higham surgeries. This includes keeping the doors closed to prevent the public from walking into the Practice without any form of screening first. The risk of infection is still high and likely to increase as we move into the winter season. It could be catastrophic if large numbers of staff at the Practice were infected or self-isolating and it could result in a complete closure of a surgery which we want to avoid at all costs.
Cliffe surgery has remained open as a dispensing service to local patients for the supply of medication.
We will also continue to provide home visits where necessary.
Medication requests are to continue as they previously have by using patient online services or by submitting a written request to any of our four locations. For those who are struggling with these methods please seek support from relatives, friends or the local community. Alternatively the reception staff may also be able to provide further advice.
Phone lines have not changed so patients who need medical assistance should contact the practice as normal.
We appreciate your understanding and support.
The Partners and Staff would also like to remind patients that:-
1 - We cannot provide early or extra 'just in case' prescriptions, this will only cause shortages of medicines and inhalers, and pharmacies will be like the supermarkets.
2 - We cannot give prescriptions for paracetamol if you do not normally receive it on prescription, even if you cannot find it in the shops, someone somewhere will have some.
3 - We won't give out inhalers on a 'just in case basis'. Especially if you haven't had an inhaler for years. This again will lead to shortages for those who really need inhaled medication. If you feel you are symptomatic, please request a telephone consultation.
4- If your appointment is postponed or moved to telephone consultation, please do not abuse us, these are national guidelines, in place to protect you and to protect us. We are still triaging, talking to, assessing and seeing patients face to face if needed. If you need us, we will see you. We are also wearing PPE, masks and aprons, don’t be alarmed, it’s a precaution only.
5 - Please do not ask for a "rescue pack" if you have asthma or COPD unless you already have this service. There has been fake and false information about rescue packs circulating on social media. These are not an entitlement for all, they are part of a very specific plan of care for patients who have unstable conditions. If you are symptomatic, let us know.
6 - Patients seeking sick notes for their employers (MED3 certificates) can now generate these themselves by clicking onto the following website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice
Then click on "Get Isolation Note" - which is half way down the page highlighted in green. This will take you to the NHS111 page where patients will be asked to answer a few questions. On completion a reference number will be emailed to you which is the sick note.
7 - Please do not ask us about the letters being sent directly from NHS England to all vulnerable patients. The practice is not able to look at individual cases as to whether a patient should or should not be receiving one of these letters. Please adhere to the .Gov COVID-19 guidelines which change regularly - sometimes daily.
8 - Please do not ask us for occupational guidance, we cannot make those decisions or give you advice, this will be between you and your employer. All you need to know is on the .gov website, you have the same access to this guidance as we do.
9 - Please do not expect a pneumococcal vaccination unless you fit the recommended criteria to receive one. Pneumococcal vaccination is in short supply, it is for certain groups of patients only who are classed as vulnerable and it is not a protection for Covid-19.
10 - Please keep up to date with your children's vaccinations, we cannot risk any other outbreaks of childhood diseases on top of everything else. Please don't bring other children along to vaccination appointments and only one adult who is able to consent (Mum-Dad) to accompany the child to surgery.
11 - And please remember:-
- Not come to the practice if you, or anyone in your household, have symptoms associated with coronavirus including a new continuous cough or a high temperature.
- If you have symptoms associated with coronavirus including a new continuous cough and a high temperature, you are advised to stay at home for 10 days. If you live with other people, they should also stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.
- If your symptoms are serious, or get worse, NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need further medical help and advise you what to do.
- Only call 111 direct if you are advised to do so by the online service or cannot go online.
- For the latest coronavirus advice please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
Finally thank you very much to all our patients and their families who have been understanding, considerate and patient during these difficult and uncertain times.