Local health and care services remain available to support local people, however, many services are working in a slightly different way to keep them running and health and care staff, along with local people safe, during the Coronavirus outbreak.
With technology at the fingertips of many health care professionals and patients alike, this opens up opportunities to provide care and advice on the phone or online, as an alternative to face to face. This will help to minimise risk while continuing to ensure people get the care and advice they need.
Patients seeking appointments with their GP Practice may be offered a telephone or video consultation initially, and if necessary a face to face appointment will be offered. This might mean patients need to go to another local GP Practice which has been chosen to provide face to face services.
For some patients a face to face appointment may be their only option, and GPs are also prioritising home visits for those vulnerable patients that have been advised to stay at home and ‘shield’ for many weeks.
Dr. Jeff Schryer, local GP and Chair of NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
“In order to keep patients and our staff safe, and to ensure face to face appointments are available for patients that need them, we are working in a different way. If your GP can safely provide your care remotely, over the phone or online via a video consultation, they will. This will help to minimise the risk whilst continuing to ensure patients can access the care they need.
“Practices are seeing an increased demand from patients for repeat prescriptions, more than we would normally expect. We understand the current situation is worrying and causing people concern, that’s human nature, unfortunately additional medicines requests are putting more pressure on our GP Practices, community pharmacies and medicines supplies. I would urge patients to only order what they usually would, to ensure access to medicines remains available for everyone that needs them.”
Some simple steps to help your GP Practice and pharmacy help you:
· Plan ahead where possible, try to order your next prescription (electronically if possible, nominate a pharmacy of your choice via your GP Practice) seven days before it is due (as usual).
· Your GP Practice will send your prescription electronically to your chosen pharmacy within two working days.
· Your dispensed prescription will be ready at your chosen pharmacy within a further one to two working days.
· Many pharmacies offer text alerts to let you know when your prescription is ready to collect. Let them have your contact details so they can keep in touch.
· Do not visit a pharmacy if you or anyone in your household has a high temperature or continuous cough.
· If you are self-isolating please ask family, friends or neighbours to arrange to pick up your medication for you. If you don’t have anyone who can, speak to your community pharmacy to see how they can help.
· If you are well and able to visit the pharmacy yourself, think about how you can help family, friends and neighbours who are self-isolating.
GP Practices are also seeing an increase in patients requesting ‘rescue packs’ for respiratory conditions. Rescue packs are antibiotics and oral steroids for patients with pre-existing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). They are powerful medicines and should only be prescribed with careful discussion between the patient and their doctor.
Dr. Schryer added: “If you have asthma or another respiratory condition, continue to manage it in the usual way. Rescue packs should only be used for those people who have previously been prescribed them to manage flare ups of COPD as part of their agreed management plan. Please don’t contact your GP Practice for a rescue pack unless you’ve previously been prescribed one.”
If you have a respiratory condition like COPD and have symptoms of Coronavirus, visit [111.nhs.uk/covid-19]111.nhs.uk/covid-19 before doing anything else.
Access the latest advice at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
· Stay home, save lives
· Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
· If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
· Wash your hands as soon as you get home
· Do not meet others, even friends or family
· You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms