Welcome to Firs House
We are confident that our website will provide clear and concise help and give our patients the information they require in an easy and convenient format. It has been designed with the patient’s needs at the forefront of everything, from checking surgery times to letting us know what you think of us.
Our dedicated team are here to treat those minor ailments that occur as well as providing specialist management of long-term conditions and clinics covering a wide range of healthcare issues. The technology also means you can now do a lot of things from the comfort of your home such as order a repeat prescription, book or cancel an appointment.
Partners in Care
Once registered, patients and healthcare professionals work together to ensure the most appropriate care is provided. This partnership philosophy extends even further and our active patient group exists to make sure that patient needs and the practice offering are always heading in the same direction.
Covid Vaccination Programme
Media headlines last week spoke of “Covid vaccine by Xmas from GPs”. What does this mean for me?
Firs House Surgery absolutely want to be involved in any vaccination campaign, however, we don’t have any information ourselves yet, and contrary to media reports no ‘deals’ have yet been done, but we expect more information soon.
Whilst there are uncertainties about the vaccination programme’s priorities and the logistics of its administration, we are acutely aware of how the pandemic is affecting our patients. The last 8 months have been extremely challenging with many experiencing anxieties and frustrations as we navigate ever changing guidance and limitations in the way in which we live our lives. Staff at Firs House Surgery have consistently worked incredibly hard implementing new ways of working in line with evolving national guidance and safety systems, to meet increased patient demand safely.
We want to be involved in an effective vaccination programme serving our community and we look forward to such a programme to help us all keep safe and return to a more normal life.
But isn’t it just like a flu jab?
No, not by a long stretch.
Flu jabs are delivered in their own little syringes, and kept refrigerated. They can safely last in a vaccine fridge for several months. We can keep them and use them, either in dedicated flu clinics or opportunistically if we see you for something else. We can run the clinics a bit like a conveyor belt, as I’m sure many of you will have experienced. We can get a large number of people vaccinated in a very short period of time. People then leave the practice immediately. Once a year, job done.
So what’s different about a new Covid vaccine compared with the flu jab?
These new vaccines are not yet ready, and we don’t know when they will be. They are completely different. They need to be stored frozen in special dry ice, colder than a home freezer (about -70°C). Surgeries don’t have those freezers. So they will be delivered whilst they are defrosting for use. However they can inky be stored in a vaccine fridge for a few days before expiring. They don’t come in their own little syringes. We will have to carefully draw them up from a main vial, dilute and mix them for each individual which will probably take from start to finish about 20 minutes, needing two members of staff (one to draw up, one to check - this is established safe practise with these preparations to minimise error). Once the patient has received their Covid-jab they must wait for 15 minutes to ensure no serious reaction -these vaccines are brand new, and whilst there is a huge regulatory framework to ensure their safety, we will have to take extra care. This in itself will be difficult as we have to maintain social distancing and we don’t know how quickly these clinics will take place. It will be nowhere near as quick as a flu clinic.
Will this be at my local GP surgery?
To begin with, NHS England thinks that areas will have one central Covid-jab centre. This might be in a local practice. It might be yours, it might not. You may have to travel. How the chosen centre will continue to look after its patients ongoing and urgent health needs, we don’t yet know. No details of those plans have been shared yet.
Is it just one jab?
No. You will need two. They will be 3-4 weeks apart but you must not have had any other vaccinations in the previous week.
How many patients will get it the vaccine when it’s ready?
Government says it wants 40 million people vaccinated (that’s 80 million appointments). Putting that into context, every year there are 40 million A&E attendances and 360 million GP appointments. This is going to take a long time. There are no spare GPs or practice nurses. We don’t yet know how we are going to plan for this on top of what we are doing now - managing hundreds of acute and chronic patients every day: on the phone, over video and being brought into the surgery by invitation.
Will GP’s be getting paid to vaccinate us?
GPs hold a contract with the NHS to provide certain services. The money from that contract pays for the building, the heating and electricity, the nurses, receptionists and staff, clinical equipment and a variety of other expenses that go with providing services to patients.
If the government wants GPs to do something new, (e.g. deliver a new vaccine) it will buy that service from the GP to pay for the extra staff, clinics and hours to cover expenses. It is very unlikely that GPs will make a profit out of the Covid vaccine. Based on current information they may make a loss, but recognise that it is the right thing to do for their patients and communities.
But what we don’t know, is what we might have to consider stop doing, to free up time to provide this vaccination service, given that we are working at 150% compared with this time last year, according to our LMC’s survey.
Will it be available by Christmas?
No one knows. But if it is, there will be a very small number of doses and we think the Government might suggest protecting Care Home residents first.
Whatever you read in the paper or online, don’t forget - this is going to be very difficult. We need to make sure there is a safe system and a safe vaccine first.
Even when it comes, it won’t prevent Covid, it will only make its effects milder. So please bear with us - we are in the dark too.
And there is still every reason to think ‘Hands, Space, Safe’ for a long time to come.
Stay Safe, Be Kind
The most important symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of any of the following:
• a new continuous cough
• a high temperature
• a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness. However, if you have any of the symptoms above you must stay at home and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – go to testing to arrange.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, OR you have received a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test result, the clear medical advice is to immediately self-isolate at home for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
Consider alerting the people that you have had close contact within the last 48 hours to let them know you have symptoms of coronavirus COVID-19.
Following a positive test result, you will receive a request by text, email or phone to log into the NHS Test and Trace service website and provide information about recent close contacts
For more information and guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) please click HERE
Firs House and Telegraph Surgery: Working through the COVID-19 Pandemic
We are living and working in unprecedented times. Never did we think that our front door would be closed during the working day. We want to reassure everyone that this measure was taken to ensure we could keep the surgery as safe as possible for those patients who still need to attend in person and for the staff who continue to work. We would like to reassure all our patients that we are still open and providing medical services.
Whilst our clinicians miss seeing patients face to face and find if a challenge to work remotely, the need for a face to face appointment has to outweigh the risk of potentially contracting Covid19 both for patient and clinician. We are following national guidance and anticipate that we may have to continue to work in different ways for some time to enable us to provide a safe service for the likely long duration of the Pandemic. A significant proportion of our workforce is currently shielding due to underlying significant vulnerability or vulnerabilities and working remotely or avoiding any patient contacts including members of the nursing and medical team. We will not be able to resume normal services until we can be sure it is safe for our patients, our colleagues and staff who also have vulnerable family members to consider.
How do the appointments work during this pandemic?
- Please telephone the surgery Monday to Friday as you usually would
- The Receptionist will assess your request and book you for a telephone call with a clinician. We will always ask what the problem is so that you can be called by the appropriate person.
- At this time we do not have individual Doctors’ clinics as we cannot guarantee who will be available. You can request to speak to a specific person and if it is possible this will be done.
- The GP, Nurse Practitioner or Practice Nurse will call you back. The time will depend on the number of calls requested on the day and how long these take.
- We have incorporated in our confidential clinical system a new software system approved by NHS England which allows video consultation and the use of clinical photography in line with CQC and GMC guidelines.
How are the GPs working?
- We are very busy mainly with phone consultations and video calls. We are seeing a lower number of patients face to face but have the facility to do this safely at our branch surgery if necessary where the GP will wear PPE to keep patients safe. This follows national guidelines to minimise risk to patients from necessary visits to the surgery. The majority of patient concerns can be appropriately managed via a remote consultation.
- If face to face assessment is warranted we try to limit the contact time and the risk to the patient, and perform the physical examination only in full protective equipment having discussed the history over the phone prior the assessment. We have been provided some PPE by the NHS and purchased ourselves extra equipment to ensure our patients are safely assessed and to protect our staff, families and ourselves. The PPE is limited and we have the use the equipment sensibly as we are unsure how long the risk and restrictions will last for and also considering there is a nationwide shortage of PPE if we were to run out.
- We have a mixture of inquiries and conditions presenting. All patients with a clinical inquiry will speak to a clinician. Patients who need to be seen will be triaged and given a time to come to the surgery.
- Patients, with very few exceptions, are being extremely understanding and appropriate in terms of their requests.
- We are still, of course, making referrals to urgent outpatient clinics or for more immediate assessment where we suspect serious conditions, for example cancers, heart disease, unwell feverish children etc . Secondary care has cancelled or suspended all routine referrals at the present time and we are awaiting further guidelines from the hospitals with regards to when the services will be available again.
- We very much encourage patients to use resources such as NHS 111 and NHS Choices online sites if concerned about any symptoms and not to delay coming forwards with symptoms that might need urgent assessment.
How are the nursing team working?
- The nurses are also triaging and carrying out urgent blood tests, dressings and children’s immunisations plus other absolutely necessary procedures.
- The clinics are organised to keep wait times and the number of people in the waiting room to a minimum so social distancing can be maintained. Some people prefer to wait outside or in their car with a mobile phone and tell us when they are here. This is working too.
- Some routine procedures and blood tests that can safely wait a little longer have been deferred to help us keep you safe.
- We are very aware that some of the patients who cannot wait for care are very vulnerable. We can reassure patients attending that the nursing team wear PPE (gowns, aprons, gloves, masks and goggles) and safety measures are being adhered to.
- Our management team are closely monitoring guidance and helping us adapt to the many changes that are happening
- We are continually sourcing PPE to keep everyone as safe as we can
- Our secretarial and admin teams are working on site and remotely and continue to support the team
Staff working from home
- Very early on we established which of our staff should be working from home. So we have a number of admin and clinical staff working remotely with NHS approved encrypted IT so we can continue to offer all necessary services.
- Members of the nursing team who are working from home are contacting all our vulnerable shielding patients and have started welfare checks on our elderly particularly those living alone. We are signposting to appropriate help including the volunteers in Histon and Cottenham.
- We are protecting our vulnerable staff as per government guidelines and this has resulted in a reduction of the staff available for face to face assessment.
We fully appreciate the help we have had getting PPE, donations of hand cream and a generous amount of Easter Eggs and would like to thank everyone who has contributed and to thank the local community for their support.
Changes to Appointments at Firs House and Telegraph Street Surgeries
In light of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic, we have implemented safety measures to reduce the risk of exposure which includes a change in how we offer appointments to patients. As of today, Wednesday 11th March 2020, we will not be providing advanced and / or follow up appointments at our Histon or Cottenham surgeries.
For more information please click here- Change to Appts- COVID-19
Firs House Receives Good rating from CQC
For more information and to read the full report, please see link below.
Firs House Partnership CQC 2019
(Site updated 12/11/2020)