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
THE SURGERY REMAINS OPEN FOR BUSINESS BUT APPOINTMENTS WILL BE TRIAGED ON THE DAY.
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 10 days from when your symptoms started. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
Alert the people that you have had close contact with in the last 14 days 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.