Accessing the Practice During Covid-19

Posted by: freyakeith - Posted on:

An Update for Patients

The Ireland Wood and Horsforth Medical Practice team are working hard to ensure patients can access our services in a Covid secure manner. Accessing the surgery looks different, but we are still here and open for our patients.

Appointment System – Message from Dr Worsfold
One of the biggest challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic had been an overhaul of our appointment system. I want to say a big thank you to all of our patients for being calm and understanding as we have had to adapt to the risks presented by Covid-19.
For the safety of everyone we are trying to deal with as many things remotely as possible, this has given us a great opportunity to maximise the use of technology – consultations are now predominantly being done via telephone or video-call. Photos and documents can be sent via text message or email and online consultations can be accessed through our website. These measures improve efficiency and decreases your need to come to the surgery or having to wait to speak to someone. We would encourage everyone to get online access and download either the ‘Patient Access’ or ‘NHS’ app (other providers are available).

If you have an urgent problem then you will be called back by a doctor the same day from a triage list, routine appointments can still be booked in advance preferably online or by ringing reception. We are still able to see people face-to-face either at the surgery or on a home visit when appropriate, but these will be triaged before-hand. As you can imagine face-to-face appointments now take a lot longer due to room cleaning and changing of PPE which is why we will only book these if they are absolutely needed, we are grateful for your patience with this.

To reassure everyone, if someone needs to be seen who might have symptoms related to Covid-19, they enter the surgery via a separate entrance and are seen in a separate room to everybody else.
We would kindly ask that anyone who has an appointment brings a mask. If you have symptoms related to Covid-19 within the past week or contacts within the past 2 weeks, you should cancel your appointment and re-book it for when your self-isolation period ends.
Once again I would like to send everyone our heartfelt thanks, our patients have been really appreciative and thoughtful during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On behalf of the GP Partners,

Dr J Worsfold

Telephone Waiting Times
We are experiencing an extremely high level of calls currently, and ask that patients call after 10am for non-urgent matters such as booking a flu vaccination, requesting test results etc.

Online Access
We encourage all of our patients to consider signing up for online access. There are a number of different providers to choose from, including the NHS App. You can order repeat prescriptions, view test results and book certain appointments via online access, saving you time.

Flu Vaccinations
Please support your practice by booking your vaccination at the surgery. Please call after 10am to book your vaccination. Please click here to be redirected to our flu season web page, where you will find information on how the flu service will look in 2020. We will not be able to hold open flu clinics due to social distancing requirements, but we have planned the clinics in such a way to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Please ensure that you are familiar with the flu service webpage (this information was also sent out via letter to all eligible patients) before coming to the practice for your scheduled flu jab.
The most important thing to remember is to come on time to your appointment. We will not be able to accommodate patients arriving early, and we ask that everyone stick to their allocated time to keep things running smoothly and safely, in line with social distancing requirements.

GP Appointments
GP appointments are available for all of our patients, although first contact will be over the phone. The GPs will try to contact you at the allotted time, and there is no need to call the surgery if you have been waiting a few minutes past the expected call time. As with face to face appointments, telephone appointments can overrun and the GP will contact you as soon as they can. Our GPs are able to make video calls, and may ask you to send a photograph or video where appropriate. If the doctor feels that a face to face appointment is required, you will be asked to attend the surgery.
Please remember to wear a face mask when attending a face to face appointment at the practice.

Coming for a Face to Face Appointment
When you arrive at the surgery, a member of the reception team will let you into the building and take your temperature. You must wear a face covering at all times whilst in the practice building. Once your appointment is over you will be escorted from the building by a member of the team.
Please be aware that our reception and clinical teams alike will be wearing role appropriate PPE, and will disinfect the chair you have used in the waiting room, and anything that has been touched by you in the clinical room. This is to reduce the risk of infection and keep the practice as safe as possible for patients and staff.

Nursing Appointments
Due to staff sickness, our nursing team are doing everything they can to accommodate patients, and we politely ask that if you cannot attend a booked face to face appointment, you inform the practice of this in good time so that it can be offered to another patient. We may ask that certain annual reviews be conducted over the phone or via an online questionnaire; this is to reduce the footfall in the surgery and keep the risk of infection as low as possible.

Please remember that the practice does not accept repeat prescription requests over the phone. You can order your repeat prescription by registering for online services (see above) or by dropping off your request in the post box at the entrance of the surgery (this can be found at the main door at New Croft, and the front door at Ireland Wood surgery).
Please do not over order your prescription, only order what you would normally request. As per NHS England advice such requests will not be authorised. Please remember that prescriptions take 48 hours to be processed.

Long Term Conditions Recall System
Click here to be redirected to our Long Term Conditions Recall Page. If you received a letter inviting you for an annual recall appointment, you will have found that the web link on the letter did not work. The page has now been updated, as has the link included with the recall letters.
Click here to be redirected

Covid Testing
The surgery does not undertake or arrange tests for Covid-19. You should book online or via the 119 telephone number. Please do not contact the practice about Covid-19 tests.
Click here to be redirected to the government Covid testing page.

Patients Exempt from wearing a face mask
The practice is receiving a number of requests for GP’s to provide written evidence for patient who are exempt from wearing a face covering. Please see below government guidance – You do not need a written statement from a GP regarding exemption from wearing a face covering. This is not a service that we provide. 

Exemption cards

Those who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering should not be routinely asked to give any written evidence of this, this includes exemption cards. No person needs to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about their reason for not wearing a face covering. Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign.
Click here for more information

How might things change after Covid for our patients and the practice?
A message from Dr Robinson

After such a terrible time for the country we are now looking forward, trying to make gains from what has happened. During this time we have learnt that:-

  • Very often we can do many things safely and more easily over the telephone
  • Photographs and video consultations allow improved remote working when some visual input is required
  • Long term conditions can be managed remotely including by text messaging–especially if a patient can check measurements such as blood pressure, weight, height and is some cases oxygen levels
  • Allowing patients to do this improves their ability to look after and manage their own illness-which is known to help patient outcomes and satisfaction
  • Online consultations are now available to patients to utilise

       These changes could have significant benefits for patients and the practice such as:

  • Better use of time for patients and staff alike
  • Less travelling (environmental benefit) and thus more convenience for patients, easier parking at the surgery when needed
  • The surgery itself will be less busy and congested-benefiting patients as well as staff

       Some things we have found need doing less often, if at all:

  • Ear syringing, some dressing, B12 injections, many blood tests can be less frequent

We are looking forward to continuing the new ways of working that utilise the positive changes that the practice and patients have made during Covid, and ultimately improve the service that we offer to our patients. 

On behalf of the GP Partners,

Dr P Robinson