Things have continued to move quickly as the coronavirus has resulted in all of us making changes to our daily routines. We are now in the middle of a second wave and as a result we are all now part of a National Stay at Home order. This means that all of us are facing restrictions in the way that we can go about our daily lives.
At Southbourne surgery we continue to follow Government guidelines and follow the standard operating procedures laid out by NHS England. These state that all patients should be assessed using a telephone triage system before a clinical decision is made on whether to carry out a face to face examination. This is to reduce the risk to everyone involved – patients, staff and the local community. At the start of the pandemic an Essex GP surgery was identified as a source of multiple infections which then resulted in an outbreak in the local area. By reducing the risk it also means we have been able to remain open and that throughout the whole of the pandemic we have only had three members of staff contract CoVID, none of whom have caught the virus in the surgery but as the result of contact with family members or friends. All of our staff have remained vigilant throughout and followed all Government and NHS advice about social distancing etc. We continue to ask all patients from age 4 upwards to wear a face covering when coming into the surgery. This is particularly important as we operate in the middle of the second wave.
We continue to ask patients to call the surgery between 0830 and midday for routine consultations and urgent on the day issues. After midday we are currently only able to accept urgent on the day requests.
We have continued to operate throughout the pandemic and between October 1st and December 29th have had 11,199 patient contacts. This includes telephone consultations, nursing appointments, face to face clinical consultations, SMS contacts, econsults and video consultations. It also includes vaccinating over 2500 people against the flu – no mean feat when it has to take account of social distancing rules and Government guidelines that are updated on a regular basis.
All of our staff have worked throughout the pandemic and many have volunteered their time to work in CoVID vaccination clinics. Like all services, we have at times been temporarily understaffed due to people having to self-isolate. This means that occasionally it will be more difficult to get through on the phone or it may take longer than we would like for a clinician to make contact with a patient. For up to date information about CoVID vaccinations please check the news section of our website which is regularly updated.
If you have signs and symptoms that are causing you to think that you need to consult with a Doctor please don’t wait to make contact. We will see anyone who needs to be seen in the safest way possible and make any necessary referrals. We continue to carry out cervical smears and urge anyone who is contacted to arrange an appointment as they normally would. If you have had a pain that has lasted for 3 or more weeks, have a lump that wasn’t there before or have blood in your poo or wee please contact the surgery to arrange a consultation.
Everyone at our surgery recognises the frustrations of those patients who have waited in a telephone queue or struggled to get through when we have been exceptionally busy. Throughout this period of time we have continued to learn and make adjustments to our practice so that we can offer a high quality service within Government advice and guidance. We will continue to do so as the vaccination program increases and will endeavour to keep up the high standards that we have set throughout. We remain open and available to all patients – it is the way that we are operating that has changed and evolved over time.