Surgery Update 24th December 2021
Help and support available from GP practices
Following the COVID-19 booster announcement from the Prime Minister on Sunday 12 December 2021, all GP practices and pharmacies are working to provide vaccinations for all eligible adults aged over 18 in line with national timeframes.
To free-up staff to deliver this vaccination programme your local GP surgery have to prioritise GP services and pause some routine healthcare appointments. They will continue to deliver patient care and will focus our support on those most in need as outlined below.
If you have an appointment booked with your local practice please assume that this is going ahead and attend as planned. They will contact you if we need to change your appointment: you do not need to contact them.
Still here for you when you need them
While practices will need to pause some routine services, there are some things that we know cannot wait. Please continue to contact them if you (or someone you care for)
- have a serious or urgent health concern that you need to speak to someone about today;
- have worrying symptoms that could be a sign of cancer and need investigating;
- have been contacted about booking cervical and other screening or immunisations;
- have a complex long-term condition that you need ongoing help with;
- have a serious mental illness and need support;
- have a learning disability and need medical help.
For all other things we would encourage you to seek help in other ways as described below.
When contacting please tell the trained member of staff as much as you can about what’s wrong so that they can help direct you to the healthcare professional best suited for your health care needs which might be a GP, nurse or another specialist such as a physiotherapist, pharmacist or paramedic. The information you provide will also help them to prioritise your care if it’s something urgent.
The priority will be to ensure you receive care quickly and the practice might offer you an telephone, video or face-to-face appointment, arrange a home visit or refer you to another service.
Other sources of help
There are a number of ways to get health advice and care if you, a family member or a friend feel ill.
- Visit the NHS website – for advice and information on how to look after yourself and your family. It covers thousands of illnesses and conditions: www.nhs.uk
- Visit a pharmacist – for expert advice and low-cost medicines to ease your symptoms and help treat your condition. Pharmacists are trained to spot worrying symptoms that require urgent medical help. Every area has a late opening pharmacy and most have consulting rooms where you can ask for advice in private. Go to www.nhs.uk to find your nearest open pharmacist.
- Visit www.111.nhs.uk or call 111 – for free, round the clock help when your GP is closed, when it’s an urgent but not a life-threatening 999 situation, or if you are unsure where to go to get the right help for your medical condition. You can telephone 111 to get straight through to mental health advice.
Practices are contacting patients registered with them and will call you in to be vaccinated when you are eligible. Please wait to hear from them rather than calling them to check or make an appointment. This will help to keep phone lines free for patients needing medical help. You can also book a vaccination through the national booking service website or go to the Healthier Future website to check your eligibility for a vaccination, see answers to frequently asked questions, or find out about walk-in appointments.
Practices will continue to provide home visits, where necessary, for housebound patients who need to be see in person and who have no other alternative due to immobility or very serious ongoing health conditions.
Housebound patients are a priority for COVID-19 boosters. If you haven’t yet heard from your practice please be reassured that they will contact you to make an appointment as soon as they can.
Local NHS Update 9th November 2021
Message from your local NHS about help and support available from GP practices
- All the healthcare staff working in general practice are facing a big increase in demand for their services, so your patience is really appreciated.
- This message helps to explain to you the reasons for some of the recent changes you may have experienced at your local GP practice.
GP services are busier than ever before, delivering more appointments but in a different way.
We are sorry to hear the experiences of people who are finding it difficult to get through on the telephone or who are unhappy with the types of appointment offered. If you need to see someone in person, you still can. We appreciate your patience during this difficult period.
Why are things different from before the pandemic?
Official data suggest that up to 1 in 50 people in England have COVID-19, so infection control remains a high priority especially in healthcare settings where there are sick and vulnerable people. To keep patients and staff safe we need to avoid crowded waiting rooms as well as to carry out cleaning between patient consultations and so it isn’t feasible for practices to see as many people in person as before the pandemic. If we can meet your needs by a telephone or video call this could be safer for you and others and can often be quicker and more convenient.
Currently around half of appointments are in person. Your GP team will make sure they arrange these types of appointments when needed. Your GP practice team is working hard to make sure that you get the same high standard of care whether you receive help on the phone, by a video call or in person.
With practices now doing more work over the phone, and due to the increase in the number of patients seeking help from their GP, including for vaccination queries (flu and covid), unfortunately some patients are finding it harder to get through and are facing long waits. We know this is frustrating and can be disruptive for you. We are really sorry for this and are working hard to improve your experience when contacting your GP practice.
Please do continue trying to get through to the practice on the phone when you need to.
Helping you get the right appointment for your needs
The reception staff are trained to support you to get the right appointment for your needs and sometimes you might be asked to give information that you would prefer not to share with someone other than a doctor or health professional. It really does help to have this information in order to arrange the right appointment for you.
You may be offered an appointment with a different trained professional who works at the practice rather than a GP if this is the best person to help you. This might be a nurse, a paramedic, a pharmacist, a healthcare assistant or a physiotherapist.
We know that most of you will continue to treat your practice staff with courtesy and kindness. This is really important for all the staff at your practice and they appreciate it.
Thank you for your patience and support during these difficult times for everyone.
Surgery Update 16th July 2021
We need to continue to do what we can to keep people safe from catching Covid-19. One way we can all help with this is by continuing to wear a face-covering in our practice and we are asking all patients to do that, as well as our staff. Keeping our staff safe is essential to keep operating efficiently.
We are also continuing to make sure we don’t have large numbers of patients in our waiting areas and on the premises – again this is about reducing the chance of infection when there are rising rates in the community.
The various measures we have taken, including increased use of personal protective equipment, patients wearing face masks, holding more virtual consultations, social distancing and extra premises cleans have helped protect staff, patients and visitors over the past year. Taking these steps has also enabled us to continue providing many of the non-urgent services that would otherwise have been postponed.
We want to make sure you can all be confident about accessing or visiting local healthcare services safely.
Thank you for your understanding and your cooperation with this – it makes a huge difference.
Surgery Update 24th June 2021
We are here for you when you need us – how to access services
If you need the help of a GP, practice nurse or other health professional that works in our surgery, we are here for you.
GP practices are busier than they have ever been and we want you to know how to get the help you need from us.
As you will know, we have been open throughout the pandemic, offering you telephone and online appointments. Face to face consultations are available for those who need them. We have continued to help many thousands of patients each week, alongside planning and delivering the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
There are some things that patients can do to help make sure we can see everyone who needs us, as quickly as possible. Please continue to contact us by phone or online as this helps us to manage people entering our practice building; it is much better if you don’t come to the practice unless you have an appointment. We need to keep social distancing in our practice building to keep everyone safe, we also ask that you always wear a mask while in the surgery. Please remember that appointments are a set amount of time so it is only safe to discuss one or two health issues. If you have more to discuss please mention this when you speak to reception staff.
Our busiest times of the day on the phones are between 8am and 10am so if you can, we would suggest that you call outside of this time.
During the pandemic the use of our online system Accurx increased. It is a great way to get clinical advice for your condition, however, it is worth remembering that each consultation takes a significant of time to review and there are lots of other ways to get advice. Also, you will not get an instant response to these so if it is urgent please call the practice or contact 111.
On our website we have links to key NHS information and advice. Please also go to www.nhs.uk which is a as a source of trusted health advice about your or your child’s condition. Your local pharmacist is also there for you as an expert in medicines. They can offer advice for certain ailments. They will also know when you need to contact a GP or another more urgent service. Many pharmacies are open in the evening and at weekends, you can find them on the NHS website. You can also find out how to make the most of your pharmacist.
Remember if the situation is urgent you can contact NHS 111 by visiting www.111.nhs.uk or by calling 111. They can also support with a mental health crisis if you select option 2.
You don’t need to see a GP to refer yourself for some mental health services. Find out more at https://www.hpft.nhs.uk/services/community-services/wellbeing-service/ If you are worried about your mental health and any harm you may cause yourself please contact your practice.
Remember to always dial 999 straight away when it is a real emergency, for example if you think someone is having a heart attack or a stroke.
Please continue to use general practice when you need to, we are open and there for you.
Thank you for your support.
Surgery Update 5th March 2021
Covid-19 vaccination programme
We are delighted to have been able to deliver the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to so many of our patients in recent weeks. The vaccination centre at the Lord Butler Leisure Centre has worked really well and we are continuing to bring patients in for their vaccine – particularly focussing on those who are clinically at risk, and also our unpaid carers. We have also started to invite our more elderly patients in for their second dose.
There are some weeks when we are not receiving as much supply of the vaccine as we would like, and we know this has led to some frustration and concern. We do liaise with our colleagues in the NHS locally to try to get more vaccine stock into our centre, but the supplies are controlled nationally and this means we can’t always offer as many vaccine appointments as we want to. If you or someone you care for is eligible for a vaccination and is very concerned about waiting to be vaccinated, you can alternatively try to book online at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus- vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/ or dial 119 to see if an alternative nearby vaccination centre has any appointments.
For more information on the vaccine programme in this area, you can use this link https://www.healthierfuture.org.uk/covid
Surgery Update 29th January 2021
All NHS services are under severe pressure at the moment, as we look after increasing numbers of patients who are sick with covid-19 and other seasonal illnesses. We are also delivering the huge and vitally important covid-19 vaccination programme.
So that it can focus on these really important issues, your GP will understandably be prioritising urgent cases. This means that when you contact your local practice, they will have an initial conversation with you to understand how urgent your health needs are. If you have an issue that is not urgent, you may to wait longer than usual until your problem or concern can be dealt with.
Do please make sure that you continue to get in touch with us if you need to. This is particularly important if:
Your problem is urgent,
You have long term condition that is getting worse,
You are worried about symptoms that might indicate cancer.
Please also remember you can call NHS 111 for urgent concerns, and 999 for serious emergencies.
Your local pharmacist can also help with minor complaints
For adults with mental health problems including depression and anxiety, you can refer yourself directly to Healthy Minds, via their website: https://www.hpft.nhs.uk/services/community-services/healthy-minds-west-essex-iapt/
If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, call this Freephone number: 0800 6444 101.
We have a childhood illnesses leaflet free to download here, full of advice and information for parents and carers of young children https://hertsvalleysccg.nhs.uk/application/files/1716/0941/0098/Help_your_Child_Stay_Well_This_Winter_FINAL.pdf
Herts Help has a range of support and information to help people though the lockdown here https://www.hertshelp.net/hertshelp.aspx
Thank you very much for helping us all manage under these very difficult circumstances.
Surgery Update 29th December 2020
The Covid-19 vaccine is now being rolled out across west Essex. Those who are most at risk from Covid-19 and the people that provide care to them are being prioritised first. Please do not contact us for your vaccine – wait to be called. In line with national guidance and to protect those who are the most at risk first, the vaccine is initially being offered in the community to people aged over 80. You will be contacted when it’s your turn for a vaccine. Even if you are fit and healthy, you are still at risk of getting Covid-19, being vaccinated can greatly reduce your risk of getting the virus so please do attend your appointment when called.
Surgery Update 18th November 2020
We are OPEN, and very busy!
We are fully aware of the many stories in the national press about GP surgeries not being open. We also understand that we all want things to go back to how they were before the pandemic, and that the initial support for the NHS, which was strong at the start of the pandemic, is wearing thin. Please know that we are doing the best that we can for our patients.
We cannot comment on what other surgeries are doing – but want to re-assure you that we are OPEN!
All GP appointment requests must still be first triaged over the phone, and if you cannot be safely managed over the phone or video consultation, we will arrange for a face to face appointment for you.
Since 1st August 2020 to 31st October 2020 - the clinical team have completed:
Face to Face appointments
3148 (this EXCLUDES the 1778 flu appointments so far this year)
Virtual Care Home Ward Rounds
71 patients discussed over 12 virtual ward rounds. This equates to over 11 hours of telephone consultations.
It is not possible to quantify some of our clinical team’s work – the daily tasks such as non-urgent referrals, reviewing test results, reviewing and actioning clinic letters, contacting patients with regards to results or clinic letters, managing and actioning our prescription requests, preparing reports for NHSE and WECCG, writing insurance reports, issuing sick notes, attending virtual Multidisciplinary Teams meetings – the list is endless, but we hope the numbers above will give you some reassurance that we are working hard, and doing the best we can for our patients.
The numbers also does not reflect the work done by our Primary Care Support staff, such as our Paramedic, MSK Physiotherapist, dietician ect.
It is also impossible to quantify to work done by our support staff, such as our reception and admin teams.
We have taken on 184 new patients in this period, vs 120 de-registering, so our list size is still growing fast.
** the above numbers are approximate and only reflects statistics from our appointment book on our clinical system. For example - it does not include consultations that are completed by a clinician after an assessment of a blood test result, or another kind of test result, or following the receipt of a hospital clinic letter which requires intervention. It only reflects work following on from a telephone call from a patient via the reception team. The true numbers will be higher, so the above is an indication of the level or work we are doing, not an exact figure.
PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU NEED MEDICAL ATTENTION – remember that we may all sometimes think that an ailment or concern is not important, but please let a clinician decide. Call us, so we can assess you.
Cancer signs and symptoms
There is a legitimate concern that cancer diagnoses has fallen during the pandemic (Nationally) – we have worked hard to make sure we keep you informed over the last few months, but please follow the link below if you have any concerns.
Flu Campaign update
So far, we have vaccinated 2218 patients in “at risk” groups. Our Saturday clinics are now completed, and we are now doing flu vaccinations only within normal surgery hours. Please call the surgery to book an appointment if you fall into the at-risk category, and wish to have a flu jab.
This year it is more important than ever to have a flu jab, due to the added complexities the COVID-19 pandemic brings. Research shows people can catch both diseases at the same time, with very serious consequences. Protecting yourself against flu does not just protect you, but other vulnerable people around you.
Vaccination is a choice – we understand that – but if you are at risk, and do not wish to have a flu vaccination, please let us know, so we can manage our flu vaccination stock effectively. If you have responded to our text campaign on 29.10.2020, you do not need to inform us again.
We have not had an update from NHSE about the new cohort – patients aged 50 – 64, not in an at risk group. We will inform you as soon as we hear anything.