We are now over a year since the start of the pandemic and our new ways of working, so we felt we would share with everyone our learning from this time. We are also happy to receive any feedback following this newsletter to help us plan our services going forward. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org where you wish to do this.
We have mostly been consulting with patients who require GP services over the telephone. Where required for examination purposes etc. patients are requested to come to the surgery for follow up face-to-face appointments. We have mainly been able to offer these appointments at times to suit our patients, as we can organise our telephone consultations to fit around the patients coming in. Patients have found they no longer have to wait long for their appointments this way. Patients have fedback how helpful this has been.
Our nurses have continued seeing patients face to face. This has ensured many services such as cytology and childhood immunisations have been able to continue throughout the pandemic. More recently we have been able to reintroduce seeing more patients for their annual long term condition reviews also.
Due to both of the above, we are currently dealing with approximately 50% of our patients via telephone consultation and the other 50% are being seen face to face.
We have also been able to offer video calls where required for those patients with hearing difficulty who use lip reading to manage their consultations.
Whilst we do offer eConsultations as a practice, we have not found these to be overly helpful. Patients’ feedback is that the forms take a long time to fill in. The GPs report they feel better able to deal with any issues received this way by providing a telephone consultation in return rather than replying by email. Our patients have often said ‘they should have just called for a telephone consultation in the first instance’.
While we appreciate there is a call in the media for more patients to be seen face to face, we feel this will compromise our current offer. We are currently carrying out approximately 25% more GP consultations than we were able to offer when everything was completed via face to face appointments. We would not wish to reduce the number of appointments, and therefore not change our current system presently, but we will offer to see any patient face to face who feels they really need this service.
We have discussed the current situation with our patient participation group, and although some would prefer face to face appointments, they also understand the increase in consultations is beneficial and would not want to see this decreased.
From previous surveys completed by the practice and the patient participation group, two of the items most often raised as problems were the inability to book follow up appointments when required by a GP and the car parking. Both issues have been resolved by the current ways of working.
As you are most likely aware, the government guidance is due to change next week. Face masks will not be required everywhere, but our current understanding is they will still be a requirement in healthcare settings. This will not affect those who already have exemptions.
We wish to keep everyone safe and feel with the number of cases rising we will still have to be very careful. We do not wish to see more patients getting poorly, and we cannot afford to have too many staff off sick if we want to be able to keep the surgery open.
The real risk of this was brought home to us recently when one of our GPs was diagnosed with COVID. Had he been in work, we may have had others getting sick. We are very careful within the surgery, but it wouldn’t have guaranteed that more staff would not have been infected. Thankfully the GP is well following his illness, and this was probably mostly due to his having had both of his vaccinations. Please can we urge any patients who have not had their immunisations to get them as soon as possible. Please call 01344 233300 to get booked.
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