JANUARY 27, 2022 UPDATE - PLAN B RESTRICTIONS EASING - WHAT THIS MEANS FOR GP PRACTICES
From Thursday 27 January, the Goverment is lifting COVID-19 restrictions which includes the wearing of face coverings no longer being mandatory in public places.
While COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted in most public places, NHS England and Improvement want to remind people that when visiting healthcare settings, we are still required to follow infection prevention control measures. This includes in GP practices, dental practices, optometrists and pharmacies to ensure that everyone is protected.
As a healthcare provider that supports some of our most vulnerable members of the community, GP practices request:
• Wear a mask or face covering (unless you are exempt)
• Wash your hands or use hand gel provided at the practice
• Keep a safe distance from others
DECEMBER 2021 UPDATE
GP surgeries across the country have been asked to focus on delivering the Government's target of offering a COVID-19 booster vaccine to everyone aged 18+ before the end of December.
This is due to the rapid rising in the number of infections of the new coronavirus variant called Omicron. As a result the UK has moved to COVID alert level 4 – which is the second highest level.
In order for the NHS to deliver the vaccination target, NHS England and Improvement has requested all practices stop routine and non-urgent care so that staff can support delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations.
GP practices across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight are following guidance that was circulated by the Royal College of General Practitioners and British Medical Association earlier in the pandemic.
All critical appointments relating to possible cancer, high risk or vulnerable people living with long term conditions or urgent and emergency care will be dealt with.
To enable practices across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight support the vaccination programme, some practices may:
All practices will have the ability to temporarily change their online consultations (e-Consult) function if they wish to do so to help them manage delivering services along with the booster vaccination programme.
Changes can include practices temporarily stopping e-Consult over the evening, the weekend, at certain times in the day or entire closure of the service.
Depending on local demand and local vaccination needs, each practice is prioritising care to their population. All critical appointments relating to possible cancer, high risk or vulnerable people living with long term conditions or urgent and emergency care will be dealt with.
Practices have been given communications support to ensure they get in touch with patients ahead of making any substantial changes, including how else you can get in touch with your GP practice/NHS health services.
Increasing out-going call capacity
Practices will be able to further expand the number of outgoing calls via Microsoft Teams.
Postponing routine appointments
Some routine appointments will be cancelled in order to free up resource for the vaccination programme. Your practice will be in touch with you to notify if your appointment is cancelled.
GP surgeries are still open
GP surgeries are still open and are working differently to how they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, due to a number of reasons. This poster explains why practices continue to work differently.
GP practice staff are also helping patients to manage their conditions at home while they wait for hospital appointments.
We are still dealing with the pandemic, and so in order to keep you and our staff safe, GP practices continue to make best use of telephone, online and video consultations. Face-to-face appointments are still being given to those who need it.
When you ring, or use an online form to contact your GP surgery to make an appointment, you will be asked some questions which are designed to help staff guide you to the most appropriate clinical person to help you with your condition. This could be a nurse, clinical pharmacist, physician’s associate, GP or paramedic.
Types of Appointments
On average across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, GP practices are carrying out hundreds of thousands of appointments.
To make sure people can get access to care safely and quickly, practices aim to deliver a range of different ways of having an appointment to provide you with more choice and more convenience.
Types of appointments include phone consultations, online consultations or video consultations. Face-to-face appointments are still available if you need them.
Different roles in GP practices
Did you know that GP practices offer a wide range of specialist roles, alongside GPs, to ensure you get the right help as soon as possible? Below are some details of just some of the people you may see and how they can help you:
Undertake medication reviews for patients with complex, long-term needs and helping them to manage their conditions. They also work closely with the practice team to help with prescription and medication enquiries, supporting the repeat prescription system, dealing with acute prescription requests, and providing expertise in clinical medicines advice and medicines optimisation.
First contact physiotherapists
They are usually physiotherapists with enhanced skills that can help patients with issues such as back, neck and joint pain. By making it easier for patients to see a physiotherapist, they will have quicker access to diagnosis and treatment, helping them to manage their conditions more effectively and recover faster, so they can get back to normal life quickly. They will also help GPs to manage their workload more effectively and reduce the need for onward referrals.
A physician associate is a clinical graduate who, while not a doctor, has the skills and knowledge to help diagnose and manage the treatment and care of patients, alongside the practice team, under the supervision of an experienced GP. They can provide extra capacity to help with continuity of patient care and help free up consultants to concentrate on more complex cases.
Nursing associates help bridge the gap between healthcare support workers and registered nurses to deliver hands-on care as part of the nursing team. They allow nurses to focus on more complex clinical work. Nursing associates work with people of all ages and in a variety of settings.
Pharmacy technicians work alongside the clinical pharmacists and the wider practice team. They help with prescription and medication enquiries, providing safe and effective medicines optimisation as well as ensuring any hospital medication changes are up to date and accurate.
Occupational therapists work with people who have difficulties carrying out various day to day activities because of disability, illness, trauma, ageing, and a range of long-term conditions. They help people to get on with their every-day activities and stay in their own homes by providing adaptations.
Dietitians are experts in nutrition. They work with patients to alter their diets based on their medical condition and individual needs. Dietitians advise people and help them make informed and practical choices about their food and nutrition. This could include people with digestive problems, those who want to lose weight, or who need to put on weight after an illness, or people with an eating disorder or a food allergy.
Sometimes people visit their GPs for issues caused by non-medical things like loneliness, anxiety, debt and unemployment, where a medical prescription is not the best solution.
A social prescriber works with patients and their families to help them access a range of local community services that provide practical or emotional support and guidance of a non-medical nature.
This helps improve the health and wellbeing of people in the community and allows people to remain independent and live their best lives.
Health and wellbeing coaches
Health and wellbeing coaches engage with people to support them in taking an active role in their health, by providing advice and support. They take a holistic approach, helping people to identify difficulties or issues in all areas of their life and helping them find solutions and lifestyle changes that mean they can lead happy and fulfilled lives. Health and wellbeing coaches can also play a key role in helping to tackle health inequalities.
A care coordinator is a trained health professional that helps to support people's care. They offer a range of support such as monitoring and coordinating treatment plans, help educate people about their condition, connect people with services, and evaluate people's progress.
Receptionists are trained as patient advisors to ensure you get the right care, from the right person at the right time. Providing them with brief information means they can signpost you accordingly. This can save you time if an appointment is not needed or there are other services that can also support your needs. For example other members of the practice team or community services.
Paramedics work in a variety of roles within a general practice. Their background in pre-hospital care means that they are used to working with people with a variety of health conditions from coughs and minor injuries to more serious conditions such as asthma and heart attacks. They work alongside GPs and help manage routine or urgent appointments, telephone triage (assessment of urgency of illness or injury) and home visits.
You can search for your nearest GP practice by entering your address on the on the NHS website. Find out more about how to register with a GP practice.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a medical emergency you/they should still attend an Emergency Department or call 999.