Help Us To Help You – May 2021

‘Road to Recovery’

Everyone is watching closely as lockdown easing evolves and I am sure June 21st is a key date in your minds when social distancing rules may change. It is unclear as yet what this will mean for medical organizations such as hospitals and GP surgeries due to the different risks inherent in the services we offer. Just like you we are keen to adapt to such changes but we are governed by the law as well as national guidance that I am sure will define what can be allowed.

Consequently I would ask you to be patient as we approach this date as often national guidance is not always provided as early as we would like and the logistics of changing services and access means that June 21st may not witness an abrupt change in how health care organizations can continue to provide safe services.

Please be assured that we will communicate with you about any changes at the surgery as soon as we are able to do so.

Practice Workload

We have been open and caring for our patients throughout the COVID pandemic as well as extensively supporting the work in the vaccine centre. Across the UK in March GPs themselves delivered 14.7 million appointments including COVID vaccines which was the highest on record with a total of 28.4 million appointments across General Practice of which 56% were face to face and 40% as telephone consultations. Furthermore, 1.1 million appointments in March were sadly recorded as ‘Do Not Attends’ where the patient simply did not turn up for the appointment.

So what does this mean for our surgery? In March we received 3058 telephone calls into the surgery in addition to 3594 contacts with us through our website which is a significant increase in numbers over the last year.

Like all practices we are trying hard to manage this demand for help in a variety of ways using technology but also the support of other highly qualified professionals such as Clinical Pharmacists, Opticians, First Contact Physiotherapists and Counsellors. You may be find that you are booked in to see or speak to one of these professionals if appropriate and this will allow us to focus on those people who need to see us as GPs.

Do also always consider looking at our website for help and support as many problems can be dealt with by Optometrists, Community Pharmacists and other Psychological services without the need to contact the practice directly.

COVID 19 Vaccinations

I am sure most of us would agree that the vaccination programme locally has been a tremendous success in managing to provide COVID vaccinations to all our elderly, care home and high risk residents and now approaching the younger age groups in their 40s.

There has been a significant amount of publicity about the safety of the Astra Zeneca vaccine with respect to blood clots but the risk is extremely low with an incidence of approximately 1 in 250,000 vaccines. It is also worth putting this figure into context since there is a 1 in 1000 risk of a blood clot after a flight and 1 in 2000 for women who take the combined oral contraceptive pill – both of which are common situations. If you are below 30 years with no other health conditions when you have your vaccination current guidance confirms that you will NOT in fact be offered the Astra Zeneca vaccine anyway.

I would strongly advise all remaining patients to book their vaccine appointment when your time comes as we need to continue to ensure that we both prevent you from developing a serious COVID infection but the vaccine also reduces the chance of you spreading it to another person without knowing it.

The clinicians at the centre will be able to discuss any concerns or questions with you individually.

Booster COVID Vaccines

We gather that there will be booster vaccines from this autumn but as yet we do not have the full details so we do not know exactly which age or ‘at risk’ cohorts of patients will be included, where this can be provided or indeed whether we can give this at the same time as the flu vaccine . These are all very important questions for every GP practice in the UK as the logistics are significant and we will want to ensure that we provide vaccination to as many as possible of those eligible whilst still continuing the usual service at the surgery.

New Clinical Staff

I am delighted to announce that we have recruited Sister Lucy Smith who joins our Practice Nurse team and, in addition, Lauren Bates who has joined our Health Care Assistant team.

They will support the provision of many services at the surgery including diabetes, wound care, hypertension and health checks as well as ECG and BP assessments.

Friends of Heathcote – Supporting the purchase of new equipment!

For many years we have been pleased to received donations from our patients which we have used to support our services such as the purchase of medical equipment. I am delighted to be able to confirm that, thanks to the kind and generous donations from Mr Malcolm and Mrs Elizabeth Craymer, we are able to purchase a brand new Doppler Ultrasound machine which we will use when assessing patients’ blood supply and for assessing the fetal heart rate in pregnant women.

These pieces of equipment are not supplied by the NHS but do support the high quality care we provide and we are most grateful.

If you feel that you would like to support the practice in this way either with a one off donation or a monthly payment please do contact out practice manager Tracey Murphy through our website or by letter.

First Contact Physiotherapist

We are delighted that we now have access to some ‘first assessment’ appointments with a highly qualified physiotherapist and clinicians will carefully review requests for help and may recommend that you be offered an assessment with the physio who can then see you in person and provide you with advice and guidance, refer you on for further physiotherapy if required or liaise with a GP as needed.

First Contact Psychological Practitioner [FCPP]

Many people are experiencing stress and anxiety at the moment and often they need some initial guidance as to what type of help they may need and where they can access the many sources of support. We are now able to ask our practitioner to speak to you if you have such a problem and if we feel that they would be the best first point of contact. They will, of course, liaise with us as GPs if they feel this is also needed. This service is subject to available appointments and only for those over 17 years of age and those patients not already under the care of a counselling or psychiatric service.

Car Parking

It has been apparent that many of you have started to go out walking or cycling alone or with family and friends over the last year and this has hopefully helped to support you to cope both physically and mentally with the challenges you have all had to face. As described above we have been incredibly busy offering telephone consultations with a GP, if clinically appropriate, to avoid you having to attend the surgery in person with a reduced number of face to face consultations– this has helped to keep everyone safe. We are gradually looking to assess how we might safely develop some more direct contact at the surgery but I can envisage that this could easily result in the overloading of the available space in the car park.

Many surgeries do not have a car park and whilst we do have one it is inevitable that there will not be enough space for everyone and so I would sincerely ask you to consider walking where possible and at the very least driving part way so that you have time to walk the final stage.

This will not only avoid congestion and keep you fitter but also allow those valuable spaces to be available for those who are disabled, frail or otherwise very unwell who should by necessity benefit from a parking space.

We will update you further as the situation changes at the surgery.

Dr Pitsiaeli on behalf of the surgery

4th May 2021