Resumption of some GP services from all four surgeries, and news about our online consultation service (askmyGP)

 

Summer is coming, hopefully. For GP surgeries, summer time is often quieter than normal as patient demand dips and holidays are taken. This year, like so much more, is very different. For 4 months our patients have been incredibly understanding, many shielding and staying away from us to allow us to care for those in need at these times. However, this cannot last forever, and over the last few weeks we have seen a sharp rise in the number of people needing to see or speak to a GP due to problems stored up during lockdown.

Add to this the overdue reviews for chronic conditions and the resumption of hospital clinics, and we have the challenge of increasing our capacity yet maintaining social distancing , adequate PPE and staff safety.

Our online service, askmyGP, has been invaluable to many who have internet access to maintain contact with their surgery during this outbreak, and we will continue to use this as our main method of contacting your doctor or booking an appointment. However, like all technology, it is not perfect and some patients have expected and needed responses over the weekend, when no one at the surgery is there to respond to their query. This has created some concerns about the safety of taking requests over weekends, instead of these issues being addressed by our wonderful out of hours GP service available via 111.

So we have some news to address these issues. Throughout the outbreak the majority of face to face contact has been carried out at our Bollington and Priorslegh (Poynton) surgeries. We are delighted to announce that from Monday, we will start the process of gradually re-instating GP surgeries from both McIlvride (Poynton) and Schoolhouse (Disley).

At first these appointments will be reserved for those most at need of a face to face having had adequate triage via telephone or online. Our GPs and clinicians will continue to work over all 4 sites as needed, and patients will often be offered appointments at any one of our four practices if needed. However, the resumption of at least some limited clinics at these two additional sites is something that will provide us the additional capacity needed to meet the growing demand and need we are seeing.

Due to the above safety concerns we have taken the difficult decision to turn off access to askmyGP booking and online consultations over the weekend, from Friday evening until 6am Monday morning. We have done this to ensure that patients with urgent medical problems who need advice and assessment over the weekend use the 111 service so not to delay the treatment they need.

From Monday to Friday, askmyGP will be back on to take requests for consultation and other health issues, we will do our best to respond to each one each day. The GPs believe this will address some of the significant safety concerns we have observed over the weekend.

Over the coming month we have further plans to resume other services, pending the reducing risk of COVID19, such as face to face diabetes and respiratory clinics, and increase our nursing capacity. However, as we take each step to return to “normal”, we are grateful for our patients for their understanding and support.