This is a worrying time for many and during this difficult time Links Road Surgery will continue to support our patients. However, as the pandemic situation escalates, this will be a challenge, and so, we wish to update patients with our response to the situation. This response will be developed further as circumstances change.
Firstly, we appreciate that many of our patients will be worried and anxious regarding family, work, finances etc. This is very understandable. It is quite possible that these feelings may turn to frustration and anger as the normality of life is disrupted. The surgery and the wider NHS are doing the best that we can to support patients at this difficult time. We ask you to be tolerant and understanding and to treat our staff with curtesy and respect.
Things you need to do to keep safe:
This is very widely publicised but we repeat here, the most important things to do are to be sensible and thoughtful by;
practicing good personal hygiene with frequent handwashing
using and dispose of tissues if coughing or sneezing (or at least do so into the crook of your elbow)
minimise your circulation in public places where you could acquire the illness (socially distance)
try to support those who need you but from a safe distance.
Follow recommended guidance, YES! it applies to you too!
do not overwhelm the services that are trying to support you, you can do this by;
NOT attending A&E unless your condition is life threatening
NOT visiting the GP surgery unless agreed with us that you should attend (see below)
NOT phoning NHS 111 but by going online to NHS.UK for information and guidance
NOT telephoning us, your GP practice, unless absolutely necessary
visit our website for information (currently, we are receiving high numbers of calls from otherwise well patients seeking advice and/or opinions, this is stopping staff doing their routine work such as helping with repeat prescriptions)
DO NOT STOCKPILE – this applies to essential food and provisions and ALSO medication
We need to reduce non-essential activity;
to ensure that we can deliver essential care
to respond to an increase in demand from acutely unwell patients
to ensure that we can cope if our own staff fall ill and have to self-isolate, i.e. our staff numbers reduce at a very busy time
We need to manage the risk to staff and patients by controlling access to the surgery by patients and other people.
We need to STOP all “casual” visits to the practice building, i.e. “popping in” for things like delivering prescriptions, collecting prescriptions, unscheduled urine samples etc. (see Medications, Samples and Administration below).
The Surgery is open but we have installed a video entry system as the main surgery door will be closed. Patients attending appointments should ring the bell for controlled entry to the building.
Covid19 Infected (or suspected patients)
We will continue to provide all necessary medical and nursing care, essential medical treatment and assessment (as directed by Public Health England)
We are working with other surgeries and healthcare providers to develop and Brighton and Hove “Single Site” for the treatment of Covid19 infected or potentially infected patients.
Until a single site is available, assessment and/or treatment of patients who we suspect may have Coronavirus will be done in a designated treatment room at the surgery. This room is isolated from the main surgery and does not use the main surgery entrance – the access is to the right of the front door, along a short path. Patients using this room will be given entry instructions.
We aim to maintain a high level of patient access to our Clinicians - our Nurses, pharmacist, Paramedic and GPs. To do this in a controlled and safe manner we will be changing our appointment bookings system as follows;
ALL appointment requests to see a GP will be referred to either a GP or our Paramedic
they will telephone you back to determine your specific need and how best to deal with it.
Nobody will be refused an appointment where the clinician decides that a face to face appointment is necessary.
These call backs will be by a clinician but not always your own GP.
These will be booked for essential procedures but some may be put to a telephone call back by a nurse to determine the necessity and urgency.
Purpose of an appointment (and assessment of infection)
You WILL be asked the purpose of your call/appointment request, please help us by briefly advising our booking staff what the problem is
You WILL be asked questions about your infection status, i.e. if you have any symptoms of Coronavirus/Covid19
Type of appointments
We will use a variety of consultations methods as appropriate, these will be;
Face to face
Medications will be issued as usual.
We will NOT increase orders, advance order or facilitate any unnecessary stockpiling.
Please allow EXTRA TIME for ordering your medications, please be organised. We cannot guarantee expedited issue of medications that you have failed to order in a timely manner.
Currently we cannot issue prescriptions for “over the counter” medications (i.e. paracetamol) except where we would usually do so (usually where high quantities are needed)
We will no longer be issuing paper prescriptions
ALL prescriptions will now be processed to a pharmacy electronically
You need to nominate a pharmacy or we will nominate the closest one to your home
Any prescriptions that cannot be dealt with electronically will be delivered directly to a pharmacy
Requesting prescription renewals
Paper prescription requests can be dropped into our letter box (which has been secured)
Prescriptions can be processed online – we encourage you to do this
Telephone requests will NOT be taken by staff at the practice, however, we have a dedicated phone service for this, known as POD. This is available on 08081 647678
Samples & Tests
Urine samples can be dropped through the secure letter box (in a suitable container and bagged please!)
We will suspend all but ESSENTIAL phlebotomy (blood tests). A clinician will decide/agree all blood samples to be taken.
Med3 Sick notes/fit notes
Routine sick/fit notes cannot be collected from practice, they will be emailed or attached to a text message or failing this, they will be posted to patients.
Self isolation notes
Where patients are required to self-isolate at home because they have Coronavirus symptoms (7 days isolation) or live with somebody who has symptoms (14 days isolation) NHS Digital have produced a new “Isolation Note” service. These notes are available at https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note . The surgery will not be issuing “sick notes” for Coronavirus isolation.
Employer Letters for “at risk” patients
At risk patients fall into two main risk categories, Higher Risk patients and Extremely Vulnerable patients (Also known as Shielded Patients). NHS England have written to Extremely vulnerable (shielded) patients and issued guidance for a strict isolation lasting 3 months. Employers should be respecting this situation and making arrangments and may request to have a copy of your NHS England letter.
Higher Risk patients are advised to following social distancing precautions including adjustments, where possible, in the workplace. Some employers are asking for written evidence that a patient is at higher risk. We have produced a standard letter that can be provided to you to give to your employer where you have a higher personal risk. If you live with somebody who is at risk, i.e. an elderly relative over 70, we can provide a letter to that person. You will need to provide this to your employer with a covering explanation. It is for your employer to consider what support or adjustments they can make for you, the surgery cannot get involved in communications with your employer.
Written reports & GP letters
In general, non nhs (i.e. private) letters will NOT be issued
Insurance reports, DVLA reports, Taxi and HGV medicals will not be prioritised. If your Taxi or HGV licence is expiring, you either need to get a report from a private doctor or you need to approach the licencing authority (the council or Vosa)
Referrals – We will process necessary referrals and we will prioritise referrals for potentially life limiting procedures. Other “routine” outpatient referrals may be deferred or queued. Suspected Cancer assessment and “2 week wait” referrals will continue.
Children will remain a high priority but will be subject to the same changes to the appointment booking processes outlined above.
These must, and will, continue to the standard national timescales.
6 week baby checks will now be done with the first baby immunisation, at approx. 8 weeks.
We will no longer run dedicated baby clinics but child/baby immunisations will be incorporated into routine appointments. Assessment will initially be made to determine if child/baby/parent are (potentially) infected with Coronavirus/covid19.
Parents should NOT bring other children to these appointments.
Patients who have a mental health key worker should, as much as possible, turn to that worker for support. However, we will continue to support patients with acute mental health problems or in crisis.
Acutely unwell patients needing support will continue to receive essential support from the GP team.
Face to Face examination will be minimised to avoid unnecessary visits to the surgery. Some consultations will take place by telephone and/or video.
Face to face appointments will continue for life-threatening of life-shortening illness (where not possible or appropriate by telephone or video link)
Essential Wound Care - will continue. We will check your infection status and your care will be conduction at an appropriate setting.
IUCD / contraceptive implants may be deferred and replaced with oral contraception
Pill check review will be done by telephone
Chronic disease reviews
These will be limited to patients who’s condition is unstable and may be conducted by telephone or video link.
Travel vaccinations – will be for essential travel only
Cervical Smears - Nurses will telephone to discuss these and determine necessity. Where safe, these may be deferred.
PSA monitoring - can be (and will be) safely be deferred for up to 3 months
Prostap / Zoladex (and other essential injections) will continue as scheduled
B12 injections – this will be suspecded for the time being and patients will be offered oral B12 medication where needed.
All the above will be based on a case by case, individual, clinical decision and risk assessment.