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“Assessment first” from GP practices open and providing services

30th September 2020

The threat of infection from covid-19 still exists within our communities and locally patients are being asked to continue to follow the guidance, stick to any restrictions in place and take the necessary precautions such as wearing face coverings and practicing good hygiene.

GP practices are open to patients and continue to provide services, as they have done throughout the pandemic. 

GP practice buildings are public buildings and as such must be kept covid-secure. Your GP practice will already have a process in place for managing entry into the premises to help minimise the risk of anybody spreading the virus. Please continue to follow this.

New ways of providing GP services have been introduced in order to maintain access to your GP practice team whilst protecting you, others and staff. Triage (making an assessment of your condition and prioritising care accordingly) is an important part of how GP practices work. This has always been in place, but has been vitally important during the pandemic.

Dr Amanda Doyle OBE, GP and Chief Officer for the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) said:

“GP practices are open and have been providing GP services throughout the covid-19 pandemic. They have learned during the pandemic that they can conduct consultations very well with the vast majority of patients using digital technology.

The majority of common conditions can be assessed and diagnosed by your doctor by telephone or video consultation. They are experienced and skilled in doing this. Using technology like this will help to protect you, your family and loved ones - and GP practice staff from the potential risk of the virus. If your doctor judges that your condition needs to a consultation in a face-to-face appointment, then this will be arranged, however this will be a clinical decision by the doctor, based on their judgement of the absolute need to do so.

These new ways of working provide mutual benefits to patients and your GP practice which is why before the pandemic we had a plan to start introducing these more frequently.”

The use of these digital technologies has been shown to improve patient experiences thanks to the convenience and increased access that they provide. GPs want to make sure that these new ways of working and the benefits they bring are not lost. Covid-19 has changed many aspects of our daily lives, with lots of positive changes. These new ways of accessing your GP and receiving care or treatment are just one of those.

 

Frequently asked questions 

Is my GP practice open?

Yes, your GP practice is open. You can access GP services from your GP practice. Some of the ‘traditional’ ways of working have been adapted to protect you and staff from the potential risk of coronavirus. For example, how you access your GP practice building or how your appointment is undertaken might be different.

I would like a face-to-face appointment, when can I get this?

Not all conditions need to be seen by your GP in a face to face appointment. Your GP will judge whether or not he or she needs to see you, or whether an alternative consultation is better. When contacting your GP, you will undergo an assessment (called triaging) of your needs and to determine whether you may or may not have covid-19 symptoms. Based on this assessment your doctor or clinician will determine if you need a face-to-face appointment. If safe and appropriate to do so a member of your practice clinical team may undertake your consultation via telephone or through a video consultation. This will help to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection to you and the practice staff.

How can my condition be properly diagnosed via telephone or video?

Lots of common conditions can be diagnosed using mobile devices, telephone or video thanks to the experience of your GPs and their ability to recognise the signs and symptoms of conditions from the information you provide. However, if they judge that it is safer and more appropriate to organise a face-to-face appointment for you then this will be arranged.

What if I can’t or don’t want to use video technology for an appointment?

If for a number of reasons you aren’t able to have an appointment via video technology, then your GP will arrange an alternative option – either a phone call, or a face-to-face appointment for you.

Can I still access other services from my surgery, such as ante-natal appointments for example?

Services such as ante-natal clinics, all vaccination programmes for example child and baby immunisations, and hormone injections for patients with prostate cancer have remained in place throughout the pandemic. If you are unsure what the arrangements are, please contact the service directly. Before you attend your appointment, you will be assessed to see if you have any symptoms of covid-19. The helps keep you, other patients and practice staff safe.