Adapting to new methods
As Coronavirus hit the nation, doctors across the country were forced to adapt their ways of working to ensure patients and the public were safe and not at risk of catching or spreading the virus.
Throughout the pandemic, local practices in the borough have been open with staff working harder than ever to make sure patients still have access to high quality healthcare, with all practices offering telephone triages to identify what support patients need.
"If you need to see someone, you will be seen"
Dr Dean Eggitt, local GP and Chief Executive of the Doncaster Local Medical Committee (pictured left) said: “Local practices in Doncaster are open for business and have always been open throughout the pandemic. There is a misconception that we are not offering face to face appointments but this is simply not true. Due to the nature of the circumstances we are working in, we have changed how we offer advice and treatment in some cases, but if you need to see someone, you will be seen.”
NHS England letter
Local GPs are urging residents to contact their practices for appointments as normal and assure people that if they need to be seen face to face, they will be. This follows a letter NHS England sent to local practices earlier this week stating that they must ‘ensure they have made clear through communication with the public – whether online or through verbal conversations – that face-to-face appointments continue to be on offer, where clinically appropriate’.
Since the beginning of lockdown in March, the entire sector of primary care has transformed to provide health advice and treatment remotely, enabling patients to shield and socially distance in order to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. NHS Doncaster CCG has worked closely with local practices to enable and support this transformation.
Use of technology
Dr David Crichton, Clinical Chair of NHS Doncaster CCG and local GP (pictured left) said: “We have taken huge steps forward on our digital transformation journey and its thanks to the primary care staff for all of their hard work in getting new ways of working embedded to care for our Doncaster patients. From electronic prescriptions, 24/7 advice via DoctorLink, integrating the NHS app into their computer systems and implementing virtual appointments, we have a huge range of tools to help ensure everyone who needs medical advice and treatment gets it safely.”
In an effort to minimise the spread of Coronavirus and safeguard vulnerable patients, practices have been limiting face to face appointments and only using them where absolutely necessary.
Dr Eggitt said: “When you call your practice for an appointment now, you can expect the receptionists to triage your call and as much will be done as possible to reduce your need to visit in person. Of course, there are times when you simply must be seen or examined and a video appointment or telephone call is not appropriate. At that time, the receptionist will advise patients of the visiting guidance and on arrival, check you are not experiencing any Coronavirus symptoms to help protect other patients and staff.”
A patient's story
Amy Smith from Bessacarr recently needed medical advice for her daughter and found her experience of primary care very good, she said: “My 7 year old woke up one morning with facial swelling and I was very worried so called my local practice. The receptionist asked if I could email through a photograph and a doctor called me back within the hour to ask for further information. After talking, we made an appointment to visit as they couldn’t be sure of problem without seeing her in person and when we arrived at the practice, we felt very safe and cared for. Everyone was brilliant and I couldn’t have asked for better care for my daughter.”
Where to go for health and care needs
If you need healthcare advice, please always call your local practice first. If they are full and you need to be seen the same day, there are alternative health services available including the Same Day Health Centre, GP Out of Hours, late night pharmacies and the newly commissioned Health Bus which will be at various places across the town each week until March 2021.
Dr Crichton said: “We ask everyone to please use our NHS services appropriately and seek help when you need it by calling first. We appreciate that sometimes the lines are busy and you may not get through as fast as you like, but the staff are there to help and many services, such as ordering prescriptions, are available online. If you haven’t registered for online services at your practice yet, please do as it will come in handy as we come into winter and practices get busier.”