Covid-19 Pandemic Surgery FAQ
Why is the surgery not operating normally?
Due the coronavirus pandemic, we have had to suspend most routine appointments and cut back home visiting in order to reduce the contagion risks to patients, to manage the epidemic and in anticipation of being very short-staffed due to doctors and nurses having the virus or self-isolating. Those self-isolating should follow the advice on the NHS direct web site or ring 111 if worried they are deteriorating. Patients with other medically urgent problems should ring reception. Send us less urgent queries via econsult. All consultation requests are liable to be triaged by phone and we are holding most consultations by econsult, phone or video link. The situation is changing day by day.
Can I get tested for Covid-19 at the surgery?
No. Currently all testing for the coronavirus in the community is being arranged by the NHS centrally. We have no testing kits at the surgery.
What about routine blood tests?
We intend to continue INR testing along with other essential blood tests, such as those required for drug monitoring, though we may extend the interval between tests where it is safe to do so. Routine tests such as annual check-ups, cholesterol tests etc. are likely to be postponed until after the epidemic.
I am asthmatic or have COPD
You should continue your treatment as normal and ensure you are taking your inhalers regularly as
prescribed. If you haven’t been using your current prescribed inhalers you should restart them. You
do not need to increase the use of your inhalers as a precaution or take extra blue inhaler just in case.
Instead follow the self-management advice and any action or management plans previously given by
your nurse or doctor. Monitor your peak flow, as these readings are very useful if you need to contact us.
Unless this is already part of your management plan you do not need to be prescribed a rescue pack
to take now as a precaution or keep at home just in case.
If you already have a rescue pack as part of your ongoing management you should only take this as
previously advised by your nurse or doctor i.e if you have worsening symptoms of your asthma or
COPD. Due to the current Coronavirus situation though we advise you to contact your GP practice
prior to starting any rescue pack for review.
Good inhaler technique is important. Get a video refresher for your inhaler and spacer at www.rightbreathe.com
Further information on managing your asthma can be found at www.asthma.org.uk
Further information on managing your COPD can be found at www.BLF.org.uk
Will I have my annual check-up for asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure etc.?
Most of these routine checks will be postponed until after the epidemic but we will try to do as much as we can by telephone or online.
Can I still get my repeat prescription?
Yes, these will continue but we encourage patients to request repeats through My Health Online or their pharmacy to minimise incoming paper and footfall in the surgery building.
Can I see a counsellor?
Our reception can book you a telephone appointment with a mental health worker to assess how best to help you.
We also have counselling services, which are now operating remotely by telephone and you can now self refer by email:
The Primary Care Mental Health Liaison service based within your GP practice is still working and ready to help GPs and their patients find solutions for mental health problems. We know that getting through on the phone can sometimes be difficult, so if you want us to book you an appointment for a call back from a mental health practitioner, then please email Cavmentalhealth.firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to book you in.
You will be asked for your name, date of birth and address and preferred telephone number, as well as the name of your usual surgery and a brief account of the nature of your problem (e.g. anxiety) . We need this information from you to make sure that we can link in properly with your GP. This is a secure email address and any case notes will be entered into your usual GP case notes. Your email address will not be stored or used for any other purpose
We ask everyone attending the surgery to wear a face covering for protection of themselves and others, as 2 metre social distancing may not be possible. Some patients in the surgery may be currently infected with the virus and some will be in the extremely vulnerable "shielding" group.
Please bring your own face covering. See here for tips on making one.
My contraception or HRT is due but it is not on my repeat list.
Put in a request for pills or patches, e.g. via econsult's contraception review form or My Health Online. Include your phone number, as our nurses may need to ring you. In most cases we will issue repeats without a face-to-face consultation to keep you going until after the epidemic. We aim to keep giving Depo-Provera injections to existing users, but have suspended coil fittings. See this official guidance on contraception during the pandemic, which includes advice about using coils and implants for longer than usual. Contraceptive advice is also available from local sexual health clinics.
What about my B12 injection?
If you have been having regular B12 injections for some while, your body will have several years' supply of vitamin B12 stored, so it will be safe to delay your next injection for a few months until the risk from Covid-19 is lower. Also, most people on B12 injections can absorb enough by mouth in tablet form and B12 tablets can be bought over the counter.
Update 29/4/20 - We are now resuming most routine B12 injections, but may be giving them outside the surgery building in the car park to minimise infection risk. However, we still feel that for people in the "extremely vulnerable group" who have received shielding letters it will be safer to avoid routine B12 injections until the risk from the virus is lower (of course, if a shielding patient needs to see a nurse for another reason, such as a wound dressing, then it makes sense to give their B12 at the same time).
What about immunisations?
We are aiming to continue immunisations for babies and children. If we have stocks, we will also give pneumococcal vaccines to those who are eligible. From July 2020 we are restarting some travel vaccines - you will need a preliminary phone consultation with our nurse. Flu vaccine will be especially important this winter for those who need it.
Will I have my cervical cytology smear test?
Routine smears are being postponed until after the crisis. From early May we are now doing urgent smears, i.e. those due 3 or 6 months after the last smear.
Can I see the midwife or Health Visitor?
We expect these services to continue but it is possible that the location of clinics might change.
I need regular wound dressings
We are trying to keep these going, but will be aiming to teach as many people as possible to dress their own wounds in case they have to self-isolate or we do not have nurses available.
Can I still have a joint injection?
We have suspended this service along with minor surgery. This is partly due to lack of resources but also because it is possible that a joint injection might be risky if you catch the virus soon afterwards.