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New NHS campaign urges people in Norfolk and Waveney to support their local primary care services and be kind to staff

A new NHS campaign will raise awareness of the many different ways in which patients can access local primary care services (GP practices, pharmacy, optometry and dental services), as well as urging people to be kind to staff who continue to work tirelessly to care for patients.

The campaign, which is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the last 18 months, will reinforce that primary care is open for business with a range of different services available to suit people’s needs.

The campaign, which is being run by NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), recognises the huge commitment and hard work being undertaken everyday by all staff in primary care. The aim is to make it easier and quicker for people to understand what services are available and how they can be accessed. 

A recent report by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) highlighted that in September Norfolk and Waveney GP Practices were providing more than 70% of their appointments face-to-face. This was compared against the national average of 61% face-to-face appointments made (17.3 million) of the estimated 28.5 million appointments offered overall last month.

Across Norfolk and Waveney, a wide range of primary care services are available to help keep people fit and healthy. This campaign will promote a greater understanding of the breadth of primary care services while signposting patients to the advice and treatment they need as we approach winter.

The key message is that the NHS is adapting to meet the needs of its patients, while also recognising the immense pressures faced by primary care to deliver ‘business as usual’ services.

Dr Anoop Dhesi, a local GP and Clinical Chair of NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG, said: “Local NHS services continue to be very busy but we are open and here for you if you need us. Face-to-face appointments remain available to all patients where there is a clinical need. However, you may be asked to discuss your conditions over the phone or online with a member of the healthcare team first to assess what would be most appropriate for you and which practice member is best-placed to provide it.

“The majority of common conditions can be assessed and diagnosed by your doctor or nurse via 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 at a time when Covid-19 is still circulating in our communities.”

Dr Dhesi added: “It is important to support our staff who are under immense pressure to deliver primary care services alongside the roll out of the seasonal flu vaccination programme and COVID-19 boosters. This campaign will help champion the breadth of services available to patients as well as supporting them to make the right choice for their care needs.

“We know that these are challenging and stressful times for everyone and I am encouraging more kindness and understanding for our local healthcare community.  “Abuse of our staff is never acceptable. The NHS Constitution is clear that violence, or the causing of nuisance or disturbance on NHS premises may result in prosecution or people being refused access to NHS services.

“I would like to urge everyone to please continue to be kind to our staff, socially distance where possible and wear a face covering in healthcare settings.”

In addition to raising awareness of the primary care services available across Norfolk and Waveney, the campaign will focus on the following themes: 

  • Choosing the right service – The campaign will highlight the range of primary care services available in Norfolk and Waveney
  • New roles in primary care and how they can help you – There is a wide range of health and care professionals in primary care, from pharmacists through to health care assistants. Patients don’t always need to see a GP, there are many appointments available with skilled, trained practitioners including nurses, clinical practitioners, social prescribers and others to provide help, support, advise and treat.
  • Importance of self-care - Self-care is important and can sometimes be the best way to treat minor illnesses and injuries. A well-stocked medicine cabinet can help you treat yourself and your family for common ailments.
  • Improving access and use of digital tools – The campaign will help to increase understanding about the use of apps and online tools available and how they can make it easier and more convenient for you to access primary care services.
  • Zero tolerance of abuse to staff – Unfortunately, this is becoming an increasing problem for our staff in Norfolk and Waveney. We urge people to be kind and respectful to healthcare staff who continue to do their very best to provide the care patients need

Dr Tim Morton, Chair, Norfolk and Waveney Local Medical Committee, Norfolk and Waveney’s Local Medical Committee said: “GP surgeries been worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and have been busier than ever adapting to new ways of working to cope with this increased demand, alongside the tremendously successful Covid and Flu vaccine programmes which are predominantly led by GP surgeries.

“The figures on face to face consultations and vaccination rates compare very favourably with the rest of the country and this is down to collaboration between general practice and our colleagues in other parts of the health and social care sectors. We would re-iterate the CCG’s request that patients and the media treat their GP surgeries with kindness, courtesy and respect during these difficult times whilst we continue to work to meet the clinical needs of our patients” 

Lauren Seamons, Deputy Chief Officer from Norfolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee said: “We whole heartedly encourage patients to use the four pillars of primary care to best affect. Behind the scenes pharmacies are working closely with your GP; integration is vital to making sure each healthcare professional is using their time to lead to better patient outcomes.

“Being understanding, being kind and using the right services appropriately can make a world of difference to everyone’s wellbeing.”

Further information about this campaign can be found here at: https://www.norfolkandwaveneyccg.nhs.uk/health-services/primary-care 

Ends 

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Notes to Editors

  • Our health and care staff continue to go above and beyond to provide the right care and treatment in ways that are safe and effective.
  • GP practices are open, and the number of appointments available has increased with a range of highly trained staff, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and paramedics who are able to deal with a range of medical conditions, which will help patients get treated sooner.
  • COVID-19 is still circulating and we want patients and staff to be safe. Where possible, digital and telephone triage takes place to ensure that people still have crucial access to their GP, nurse, clinical practitioner, mental health practitioner and more and where needed, face to face consultations have and continue to take place.
  • Whilst it may seem that GPs are less available at the moment, they are actually delivering more appointments than ever while at the same time also leading the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccination programme and flu vaccinations.
  • Moving forward, phone and online consultations will continue to play an important role for many, but face-to-face appointments will increase as it becomes safe to offer them and where local capacity allows.
  • We understand that it may be frustrating to wait for some time on the phone, but we urge people to continue to be kind and patient to GP practice staff; they have and continue to work incredibly hard to provide the care you need.
  • We encourage patients to be aware of the wide range of support which is available to anyone who needs medical help – including contacting NHS 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do.
  • If patients have an urgent problem or need to see their GP or another primary care health professional, they should contact their GP in the normal way. GPs, nurses and our wider primary care family are always available.

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