During the Covid-19 pandemic fewer patients have been seeking help from their GP and this is concerning as there may be people who need medical advice and whose conditions may worsen if they don’t get it.
GPs are now consulting with their patients in many different ways including by telephone, video and email but also face to face if this is needed
Dr Janet Walker, medical director, NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said, ‘GP practices have remained open during the Covid-19 pandemic but have had to adapt to very different ways of working to help to stop the spread of coronavirus. As a result the type of GP or nurse appointment you have been offered may have been different.
‘Face-to-face appointments are available to all patients, but you may be asked to discuss your conditions over the phone or online first to assess what would be most appropriate for you.
‘In addition to face-to-face consultations, many GP practices are offering consultations online or over the phone. This can be a convenient and flexible way to receive healthcare but if it is decided that you need to see a GP or healthcare professional in person then this will be arranged for you.’
GPs are urging people to contact their practice if they feel unwell, especially if they have a long term condition or their mental health gets worse. It is also important that parents of babies and young children get in touch with their practice to arrange routine immunisations.
The four main ways to get advice from a GP is to call your surgery to discuss a face-to-face or virtual (telephone or video) appointment, visit your GP surgery website and complete a confidential online form to receive a response before the end of the next working day, call NHS 111 or go online at 111.nhs.uk or download the NHS App to order repeat prescriptions, book appointments and check your symptoms.
Dr Walker added; ‘Health professionals continue to use personal protective equipment (PPE) within practices, with rooms thoroughly cleaned between patients to minimise the risk of infection spreading. Anyone asked to attend a face-to-face appointment will be asked to wear a face covering to help protect other patients and staff.
‘It’s great that people heard the message to stay at home as much as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic but we want to remind you that GPs are still here for you and it is important that you contact your surgery for advice or to make an appointment when you need to.’
It is important to follow any guidance your GP practice has in place to keep you safe and continue to follow the government’s guidance to prevent the virus spreading.