Co-existing with Covid: The New Normal
Rather than waiting for the coronavirus pandemic to end, it looks increasingly likely that it is something we will need to live alongside in the long-term.
We need to achieve three things:
- Assess and treat people with possible symptoms of Covid-19 in a safe way for them, our staff, and other patients.
- Continue to provide a broad range of primary care services to our overall population.
- Ensure that people who would be at high risk from Covid-19 can access services safely.
To achieve this, we are adopting the following measures:
- Patients with potential symptoms of Covid-19 are seen separately from other patients.
The Oxfordshire dedicated Covid “CALM” clinics have currently been suspended due to falling numbers but any patients who are experiencing potential Covid symptoms still need to be assessed and seen. Patients will first be screened by the duty doctor over the telephone and, if it is necessary to see and examine the patient, they will be booked an appointment for the same day and will be assessed in our CALM clinic room. This is located in the same place as the previous CALM clinic and patients can enter and exit by a separate door to minimize contact with other patients and staff. Patients will be asked to wait in their car and be called in by the member of staff when they are ready to see them.
- All staff in the practice have weekly screening for coronavirus
We are fortunate to have had this service provided by a local private laboratory prior to NHS testing being available, and this helps us to monitor the health of our staff and ensure that the people treating patients are not infected with coronavirus without having symptoms.
- The waiting room chairs are spaced 2 metres apart
People can have coronavirus with no symptoms, or very few symptoms. We therefore need to operate services bearing this in mind. Significant contact is defined as being less than 2 metres away from an infected person for more than 15 minutes, and we need to avoid this in our waiting areas. This has reduced the capacity of our main waiting room down to 12 people, and we have adjusted the volume and timing of face to face appointments to align with this.
- All patients and visitors to wear masks when attending the practice
As per government guidelines, all patients and visitors are asked to wear a mask when visiting the practice to reduce the risk of droplet transmission. Children under the age of 11 do not need to wear a mask and we recognize that some people may not be able to wear a mask due for other reasons. Please wear a mask as far as possible and if you are not able to do so, please alert the practice that you have arrived and wait outside or in your car to be called in. Staff are able to put a note on your appointment to indicate that you have arrived and are waiting in your car.
- Staff wear PPE for all face to face consultations
Staff will be wearing apron, gloves and face mask for all consultations. This means that it takes longer for us to switch between patients and appointments due to the need to discard and refresh PPE. We have adjusted appointment times to take this into account but please bear with us if we are running a little late. Woodlands Medical Centre Woodlands Road, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 0BB Tel: 01235 517760 Fax: 01235 512808 web: woodlandsmedicalcentre.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org WMC – updated August 2020
- Shielded patients can be seen separately
Although the shielding guidance has been suspended, we remain aware that some patients are more vulnerable to Covid. We therefore continue to operate evening appointments for blood tests and nursing activity. The practice is considerably less busy in the evening and therefore you may prefer to visit at this time to further reduce your risk of exposure.
- Most GP appointments will be done remotely by phone, video or e-consultation.
We can now only justify face to face GP consultations for people who need to have a specific examination carried out. This is needed to manage the flow of people through the practice, reduce the risks to patients and staff, and preserve the available supplies of PPE. We have found that most issues can be dealt with in this way, without the need for face to face examination, and we will be able to continue to provide effective services with these changes. If you have symptoms that you would like advice on, please do get in touch rather than waiting for things to get back to normal, particularly if you are concerned about potential cancer symptoms, heart problems, or any other significant health issue.
How to help us help you:
- Please make sure we have an up to date mobile phone number for you on your medical records.
We are increasingly using text messaging to let people know about appointments, send links to documents and issue electronic prescriptions. Having your correct mobile number is essential for these things to work, so please update this if it changes. You can provide or update your number via the NHS App.
- Consider using the e-consult service available via our website.
We are providing a next day response to e-consults received before 6pm on any working day, so this is a quick and effective way to deal with health issues. Photos can also be attached.
- Do not enter the waiting room before the time of your appointment.
With our limited safe waiting room capacity, we need to minimise the number of people waiting. If you have arrived by car and have a mobile phone, you can also phone reception to let them know you have arrived and ask for the clinician to phone you when they are ready to see you.
- Attend your appointment alone unless you need someone to assist you.
With the reduced waiting room capacity, we are not able to fit in several people per appointment and having more people in the building or consulting rooms increases the risks of transmission of coronavirus. Please could children attend with only one parent. Please could carer support be limited to one accompanying adult.
- Request your prescriptions online and have them sent electronically to a pharmacy.
You can use the NHS App or other online services to request prescriptions. Please also nominate a pharmacy to receive your prescriptions electronically, as this is more reliable and helps to reduce the number of people needing to come into the practice.
- Make use of our community link workers.
The pandemic will have created issues for many people with work, finances, and stress from uncertainty and isolation. Our community link workers can offer pragmatic and emotional support for anyone in need. You can contact them on 01235 849 445 or at email@example.com.
Thank you for your support with this. Together we can keep everyone safe and still provide effective healthcare for the patients at Woodlands.