New arrangements to see a GP if you have coronavirus symptoms
GP practices are open Good Friday and Easter Monday
Changes to the way patients are seen by a GP or practice nurse are being introduced across much of Norfolk and Waveney in the coming days.
This means some people may be asked to go for their appointment at a surgery they don’t normally attend. Others may be contacted for a telephone or video consultation or given online advice.
Patients who want advice from their GP practice or an appointment remains the same - enquire online or telephone first. Do not attend your GP practice without checking.
The NHS is also reminding people that GP Practices are open on Good Friday and Easter Monday for essential services only.
There are two new and different ways of attending a face to face appointment if this is necessary, depending on what local groups of GP practices have decided is best for their local area:
- Designated centres where people with coronavirus symptoms are asked to attend for a pre-arranged face to face appointment. These will be GP surgeries or other NHS facilities.
Where designated surgeries are put in place, these are only for patients from the surrounding area who have spoken over the phone to a GP either from their usual practice or from a new virtual clinical triage hub, and are asked to attend a face to face appointment. They will be asked to come to one of the designated centres and phone on arrival. A member of staff will invite them in for their consultation or will see them in special drive-through arrangements.
In some of the designated centres for people with coronavirus symptoms, plans are being developed to undertake routine appointments in different ways, for example drive-through phlebotomy (taking blood for tests)
Other GP surgeries in the area will be used to help people who do not have symptoms.
- “Zoning” within individual surgeries where patients with coronavirus symptoms can be seen well away from patients who do not have coronavirus symptoms.
These new arrangements will separate patients so that important routine appointments can go ahead safely, for example childhood immunisations or antenatal clinics.
The majority of patients will be given advice either online, over the phone or in a video consultation. But if you are advised by your doctor or nurse to come in for a face to face appointment, you will be told exactly what to do and where to attend. The instructions will depend on your medical need and what local arrangements have been put in place. Please follow these instructions to help keep yourself and others safe.
Dr Anoop Dhesi, the Chair of NHS Norfolk and Waveney NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We are in unprecedented times and all of our GP practices are having to make different arrangements to look after patients than we are used to. For example we are giving as much advice over the phone or online as we can.
“Your local GP practice is putting in place ways to separate people with coronavirus symptoms from those who do not. This will help keep everyone safe and ensure our GP practices have greater resilience to deal with the workload that Coronavirus is bringing now and in the weeks ahead.
“These arrangements might mean you have to travel further than normal to see a doctor, and we thank our patients for their understanding and support in these unusual times.”
Dr Scott Turner, a GP in South Norfolk, said “We have set up a hub so we can continue to see patients with possible COVID-19 symptoms without these patients mixing with other patients. Some practices can do this on their own premises but we wanted to ensure we could do this for everyone. It is also the start of a model of care that we can use if there is a significant increase in workload or large numbers of our staff are off work because of the virus."
Dr Karen Mitchell, a GP in Great Yarmouth, said: "We would like to reassure patients that, through rapid reorganisation, groups of GP practices are working together to maintain a safe and effective service. Using their staff and buildings differently, they are able to offer care safely to the vulnerable and those without possible coronavirus symptoms, whilst also meeting the needs of those that do. We thank our patients and staff for their patience and flexibility during these challenging times."
Dr Paul Williams, a GP in West Norfolk, said: “The arrangements we have put in place mean that no member of the public living nearby needs to worry. Patients with coronavirus symptoms will be instructed to arrive by car and remain there until they’re escorted into the surgery, and leave in their car again.”
Dr Jeanine Smirl, a GP in Norwich added: “We are incredibly impressed with how our staff have responded to the call. For example, in Norwich, we already have 104 doctors or nurses who have volunteered to staff a designated surgery. This is a tremendous response and reflects the level of desire to help their patients during this challenging time.”
Most people with coronavirus do not need to see a doctor. They should follow NHS advice to self-isolate and treat symptoms with rest and sleep, drinking plenty of water and taking paracetamol to lower your temperature.
Do not leave your home if you have either:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.
Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do or if symptoms worsen.