The Government has announced the final stages of lockdown easing from 19th July.
Whilst the legal restrictions will end in most settings, to be replaced by best practice guidance, responsibility will be left to individuals to decide on social distancing, mask wearing, group numbers and so on. The detailed document that accompanies the Prime Ministers announcement puts Health and Care as an exception to this and requires organisations such as our own to ensure that infection control measures remain in place, particularly with increasing COVID numbers nationally and locally.
As a practice we see sick patients, many of whom may have COVID given the rising numbers, and patients who will be vulnerable if they caught COVID. Whilst the practice vaccine programme has seen us support the highest risk patients (patients aged 50 and those 16-49 with significant underlying health problems) receive the vaccine, there are still many in these groups who are at risk: for example, patients whose health problems mean that they can’t have the vaccine, or the vaccine isn’t as effective.
To protect these vulnerable patients, in common with other local health care organisations, we will be requiring all patients to continue to wear a face covering, unless already medically exempt when they visit the surgery (face coverings are more to protect other people than the wearer). We will also be maintaining the 2m social distancing in surgery.
In the immediate term for urgent and same day requests, we will continue to offer a ‘clinician first call model’ whereby an appropriately trained professional will make an assessment and signpost patients to the option best suited to meet their needs, which may result in a face-to-face appointment. This does not affect long term condition management or Practice Nurse services and pre-bookable slots are available.
We will gradually open more appointments where face to face is the first contact, and we will also explore provision of online booking.
We have worked hard to improve telephone access based on your feedback and have significantly reduced call wait times as a result– we will continue to monitor this.
As a surgery we have always put the health and safety of our patients and staff first and will continue to do so.
We thank you for your understanding, as we continue to work to keep our community safe.