Changes are being made to the way GP surgeries operate in North Hampshire, to ensure that all aspects of general practice can continue to operate safely.
Face-to-face appointments for suspected viral illnesses – including Covid-19 – will be hosted at the health centre in Old Basing, which is temporarily serving as a Winter Assessment Centre. Any in-person appointments for any other issue will take place at the patient’s normal surgery.
The idea is to separate patients so that anyone who is not suspected of having a virus can be confident that they are attending an appointment in the safest way possible. Patients who may have a virus will know that they are attending a site which is specifically set up to promote their safety, and the safety of staff.
Dr Matt Nisbet said: “We did something very similar to this earlier in the year, using the surgery on St Andrews Road. We want to make sure that everyone understands that all patients – not just those who may have Covid-19 – are our priority, and that we are determined to make sure everyone can get the help they need, in the safest possible way.
“We believe that people can have confidence in this change – if you need to see someone about screening, or your long-term condition, or any other concern you have, we can provide a safe environment for you. And if you are suspected of having a virus and need to see a clinician, we have robust arrangements in place for that to happen, as well.”
All patients wanting to contact their surgery, no matter what their concern, are still being asked to telephone, or use the eConsult system on the practice website, in the first instance. Staff can then assess whether the issue can be dealt with virtually, or whether a face-to-face appointment is needed.
Dr Nisbet added: “We know that everyone is very focused on Covid-19 at the moment, but doctors in this area are absolutely clear that we need to help all patients, whatever their illness or their need. I hope that this change sends a message that GPs and their colleagues in primary care are here to help everyone. We would never want our patients to put appointments off, and we hope this change helps people to have confidence that we are ready and able to help.”
The Winter Assessment Centre will be operational from Monday 2nd November. Patients should continue to contact their normal practice by phone or via eConsult, from which their need will be triaged and if they need a face-to-face appointment they will be advised where to attend.