Thank you for bearing with us
FAQ update September 2021
The staff at Llanishen Court Surgery would like to thank all our patients for their kindness and understanding over the past difficult and unprecedented 18 months.
Since the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic our community has had to overcome multiple challenges and traumas including ill health, the death of loved ones, employment and education disruption and the constant stress of changing rules.
The surgery has had to respond to the challenges of the pandemic by changing our working practices and we are grateful to our patients for your patience and tolerance of these changes.
As life begins to return to normal, we are answering similar questions repeatedly, so we thought it would be useful to address these on our website.
When will the surgery re-open?
The surgery has never been closed. For everyone’s safety and in common with most UK GP surgeries, we have adopted a system of “telephone first consultations” in March 2020. This system had been widely used in other practices for many years prior to the pandemic and has been proven to be clinically safe and convenient for many patients. Throughout the pandemic we have seen patients in the surgery for clinical examinations if the consulting GP felt this was necessary. At all times, a risk assessment has been undertaken to ensure that the benefit of this visit to the surgery outweighed the risk. Clearly, in the height of the pandemic, we were very concerned about COVID transmission, so fewer patients were invited down to the surgery. As the risks have fallen, we have been able to see greater numbers of patients face to face.
Why can’t patients just book a face-to-face appointment directly?
Although most people are now vaccinated, the risks of COVID haven’t gone away. New variants are still leading to outbreaks and hospitalisations. Our waiting area remains a very compact space and it still therefore makes sense to invite patients to the surgery only when clinically necessary. Speaking to a doctor prior to your visit allows us to arrange preliminary investigations (such as blood tests or ECGs) if necessary, which reduces the number of total visits to the surgery. For many people, their medical condition can be safely and efficiently managed remotely, and this is therefore much more convenient for patients. We have also introduced eConsult, which allows patients to consult with a GP without having to ring the surgery.
Surely this telephone first system is just a way for the surgery to save money?
Actually no – consulting on the phone is often much harder and time consuming than seeing a patient face to face. However, it is more convenient for many patients and allows us to reduce the spread of infections, so we feel it is worth continuing with for the time being.
Why can’t I get through on the phone?
The relaxation of COVID restrictions has been accompanied by a significant increase in the demand for our appointments. The receptionists are working very hard to answer your calls quickly and efficiently. Thank you for your ongoing patience.
Why can’t I get an appointment?
The availability of appointments has been reduced over the past few weeks due to factors outside our control including staff sickness and reduced availability of locum GPs, so our doctors have been working over-time. We are currently advertising for a new GP to join our team, to help improve the situation, so if you know of anyone who might be interested, please contact our practice manager Graeme Lewis.
I’ve been told I can’t have my routine blood test – why is this?
As if this year hasn’t been challenging enough already, there is now a national shortage of blood bottles. These are sourced and supplied centrally by UK and Welsh Governments so completely out of our control. We have been instructed to prioritise urgent blood tests.
This is a huge frustration to us all, and clearly a huge inconvenience for our patients. We have systems to identify those patients with more critical need for blood monitoring - e.g. those on immunosuppressant treatment - and these patients will continued to be recalled as per their usual schedule. For the time being, all blood test requests will now be assessed by one of our senior clinicians to ensure that the potential for clinical harm is minimised.
When can I have a joint injection or a coil fitted?
At the height of the pandemic, there were safety concerns about administering corticosteroid injections, so these were suspended. The surgery undertakes steroid injections, minor surgery and contraceptive coils as an additional service. We are currently unable to restart these due to overwhelming demand for our “essential” services. We are constantly reviewing this situation and hope that we will be able to restart these additional services as soon as possible.
I rang with a cough, but I know it’s not COVID. Why was I told to get a test?
The only way we can know that a cough, fever or change in taste or smell is not COVID is with a PCR Covid swab test. The lateral flow tests you read yourself are not sensitive enough and were not designed for testing people with symptoms. These should only be used in people without symptoms. If you have any COVID symptoms, please book a PCR COVID test by calling 119 or visiting the following link: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
Original 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?
October 2020: We are currently giving routine B12 injections, but may postpone them if the pandemic worsens again.
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, it is now known most people on B12 injections can absorb enough by mouth in tablet form if the dose is high enough, so it may be possible to convert you to oral treatment.
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?
We are now doing smears again, but may be forced to postpone them if there is another lockdown.
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 mainly due to lack of resources but also to reduce footfall in the surgery and because of the possibility is possible that a steroid injection might be risky if you catch the virus soon afterwards.