Changes to GP Services

Our GP surgeries are working hard to ensure that they can continue to safely provide local people with access to services when you need it. To keep you and our healthcare staff safe, our GP Practices are having to change some of their services temporarily.

It is really important that you do what you can to help us to help you during this unprecedented time. Please do not attend your GP surgery unless you have an appointment and please do not contact them unless absolutely necessary.   Here you will find an overview of these changes, and how this might affect you.

I think I might have Coronavirus. What should I do?

You may have Coronavirus if you have the following symptoms:

  • high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • 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)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
    Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

If you have these symptoms, please do not visit your local health services like your GP or Hospital.

You must self-isolate:

  • you’ll need to stay at home for 7 days
  • if you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms

You do not need to call anyone regarding your symptoms. But if you do have a question about your symptoms, use the online service https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/ or call NHS 111.

Non-Coronavirus queries

For all non-Coronavirus queries, GP surgeries are conducting initial patient appointments by telephone or video. This is to keep patients safe. You can book your appointment in the usual way, with the app: https://www.patientaccess.com/ or also by calling reception at your practice.

The GP will arrange a face-to-face appointment for you, if they think it’s safe for you to come in. They will discuss this with you during your telephone/video call.

Routine monitoring and procedure

Many patients with long term conditions (such as Diabetes) need ongoing monitoring. Whilst our GPs focus on responding to Coronavirus we have taken the decision to suspend non-essential monitoring, where it is safe to do so.

If you need essential monitoring (for example, you are on medications requiring blood tests every few weeks or if you have been recently discharged from the hospital and need medication advice), this will be done, if possible, by phone or online.

Of course, some patients who need essential monitoring must attend surgery. A blood test is a good example. If this applies to you, the GP will make the necessary arrangements for you to come in.

In line with NHS guidance, other non-essential routine services are being suspended until the crisis is over. This includes services such as minor operations.

If you are pregnant, you will still need to attend your scans and monitoring. Your midwife will advise you on the best and most appropriate action to take. Don’t forget to follow the social distancing guidance as per https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.

Dealing with your repeat medications

Our pharmacy teams are urging people to follow these 4 steps and help them to help you during these unprecedented times:

  1. The right time- it is important that people order prescriptions at the right time, so as not to overload the system. Don’t order your prescriptions too early, don’t leave it too late. The best advice is to order when you have around 1 weeks supply left.
  2. The right amount- it is important that you don’t order more than you need. There is no need to increase the amount of medication you would usually get on prescription.
  3. The right things- it is important that you don’t order differently, you do not need to add items to your prescription that you have not been taking regularly or recently.
  4. The right place- it is important that people order in the right place, do not go to your GP practice. Place your order over the telephone or online.

If everyone follows this simply advice it will ease the pressure on the pharmacy system and ensure that everyone can get the medicines they need, when they need it.

You should order your prescription by phone or by the patient app. This will stop you coming into contact with other patients when you don’t need to.

During this crisis, phone lines may be busier than usual. So, we recommend that you use the patient online access app. It’s available 24/7, and only needs a few presses of a button. You can access it via https://www.patientaccess.com/.

How to get a sick note

Most sick notes can be issued without you seeing a doctor face-to-face. A telephone consultation with a doctor is fine.

Need a sick note? Please contact the reception team at your GP practice to request a telephone appointment.

The GP will now email the sick note to you if possible. This will avoid you attending the surgery.

Please note: you should self-certify for the first seven days of your illness. However, this guidance may change during the crisis.

If you have self-isolated and need proof of this for work, you can get it online without speaking to your GP. This is called an isolation note and is available herehttps://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/

Why you should use the patient app

During this crisis, the NHS in Walsall expects much higher call volumes than usual. To avoid you having to wait on the phone, we strongly recommend that you use the patient app. https://www.patientaccess.com/

You can use the app to:

  • book your appointments
  • order your medication
  • view your medical record
  • obtain your test results
  • link to some health devices

Referrals and Further Care

If you need a referral, your GP will make this as usual. However, due to current pressures, hospitals are cancelling some outpatients’ clinics and also routine operations.

Need more information?

For more NHS information on Coronavirus https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Please remember, DO NOT attend your GP surgery to request medication or book a routine appointment unless it is absolutely necessary.

Thank you for your understanding.