GP practices in Sefton are open and continue to provide services as they have done throughout the pandemic. This means that for patients, your surgery is still providing healthcare services, be it remotely using telephone or video technology, or face to face if safe to do so and deemed necessary by your GP.
One Sefton patient is very thankful that her GP practice was so helpful as she was referred to the right service for her at the right time.
Mrs Andrea De Cort, a Sefton resident, talks about her experience with her practice during lockdown:
“Myself and my husband Ron have been helped by our GP practice several times during lockdown and I have to say that they have been excellent on each occasion.
“I found two lumps on my right breast in May 2020 and went through the econsult system to let my doctor know about it, I drew sketches of where they were and had a phone call with the receptionist that day who actively listened to everything I had to say. They referred me straight away to the Royal Liverpool Hospital and were brilliant at updating me on my care. What was reassuring was that this was all dealt with within a few days.
“It’s really crucial that people understand that their GP practice is still open for business. You might need to deal with them slightly differently to how you have done in the past, but it makes no difference to the standard of treatment you will get.”
In Sefton, the number of patients GP practices are seeing, either face to face, over the phone or via a video link, is increasing month on month as surgeries concentrate solely on the healthcare needs of residents having completed their part in vaccinating the most vulnerable people of Sefton in the top nine priority groups during the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
Over the last six months GP practices have organised over 666,833 appointments for Sefton residents outside of any vaccination appointments in that time. This is an increase of 20.7% from the previous six months, showing the rising demand GPs are facing.
The threat of infection from COVID-19 still exists and rates in Sefton continue to rise. Patients are being asked to continue to follow guidance in place and take the necessary precautions such as wearing face coverings and practicing good hygiene. Patients are also being asked to be kind to GP practice staff at this busy time and respect the necessary infection control measures that are in place to ensure surgeries stay functional and open.
GP practice buildings are public buildings and as such must be kept COVID-secure. Your GP practice will already have a process in place for managing entry into the premises to help minimise the risk of anybody spreading the virus. Please continue to follow this.
New ways of providing GP services have been introduced and are still in place in order to maintain access to your GP practice team while protecting you, others and staff. Triage (making an assessment of your condition and prioritising care accordingly) is an important part of how GP practices work. This has always been in place but has been vitally important during the pandemic.
Dr Pete Chamberlain, local GP and chair at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:
“We are open and have been providing GP services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We have learnt during the pandemic, that we can conduct consultations very well with the vast majority of patients using digital technology. With COVID-19 levels rising we are supporting practices to continue with this approach.
“The majority of common conditions can be assessed and diagnosed by your GP by telephone or video consultation. However, as has been the case throughout the pandemic, if your GP feels that a face to face appointment is required and it is safe to do so, this should be arranged for you. We also continue to provide an Out of Hours GP service at evenings and weekends for those who need it.”
Dr Rob Caudwell, local GP and chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said:
“Around 25% of people with COVID symptoms are getting a negative flow test result which is why it’s important to go with a PCR test if you do have symptoms, especially as we are seeing levels rising again in Sefton and you can book this on the Gov.uk website.
“Accessing your GP in the correct way for your specific medical need will help to protect you, your family and loved ones - and GP practice staff from the potential risk of the virus.
“We have been busy throughout the pandemic continuing to provide support to patients as well as being an important part of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. Patients are being reminded that staff are here to help and should be treated with kindness and respect.”
You can view videos of Andrea and Ron De Cort talking about when their GP practice has helped them during the pandemic here: bit.ly/3xvGZd7