Temporary Working Practices at Woodlands Medical Centre to cope with COVID-19

Co-existing with Covid-19: The new normal
The Woodlands practice has had an increase in the number of patients going to the practice to book appointments. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS.
• Only go to the practice if you have an appointment booked. This helps protect vulnerable patients
• To book an appointment please call the Practice or use the NHS app
• For non-urgent enquires please use the online consultation facility (e-consult) on the practice website.
The new normal:
Rather than waiting for the coronavirus pandemic to end, it looks increasingly likely that it is something we will need to live alongside in the long-term. Below are some changes that we need to make to how our services function, and ways in which patients can help us to provide effective services.
We need to achieve three things:
• Assess and treat people with possible symptoms of Covid-19 in a safe way for them, our staff, and other patients.
• Continue to provide a broad range of primary care services to our overall population.
• Ensure that people who would be at high risk from Covid-19 can access services safely.
To achieve this, we are adopting the following measures:
• Patients with potential symptoms of Covid-19 are seen separately from other patients.
‘CALM’ clinics (Coronavirus Assessment Liaison and Monitoring) have been established across Oxfordshire. Woodlands hosts the Didcot clinic. Patients park in separate parking bays, use a separate entrance, and are seen in a separate part of the building from other patients. The clinicians seeing those patients stay in that clinic for the duration of that session, wear PPE, and change out of the clothes worn at the end of their clinic before coming back into the rest of the building. This should provide effective segregation of people with symptoms and those without. The number and locations of these clinics may vary over the coming months as we see peaks and troughs of symptoms of possible coronavirus.
• All staff in the practice have weekly screening for coronavirus.
We are fortunate to have had this service provided by a local private laboratory prior to NHS testing being available, and this helps us to monitor the health of our staff and ensure that the people treating patients are not infected with coronavirus without having symptoms.
• The waiting room chairs are spaced 2 metres apart.
People can have coronavirus with no symptoms, or very few symptoms. We therefore need to operate services bearing this in mind. Significant contact is defined as being less than 2 metres away from an infected person for more than 15 minutes, and we need to avoid this in our waiting areas. This has reduced the capacity of our main waiting room down to 12 people, and we have adjusted the volume and timing of face to face appointments to align with this.
• Shielded patients can be seen separately.
We are operating some evening appointments for blood tests / nursing activity which are reserved for people at the highest risk of complications from coronavirus. The CALM clinic and the pharmacy will be shut at these times, so that people can access services without significant contact with other people. Staff will be wearing PPE, which together with their weekly screening, makes the risk of possible transmission to these patients extremely low. We will also be operating daytime appointments for shielded patients from one of the other GP practices, so that people also have this option to access services.
• Most GP appointments will be done remotely by phone, video or e-consultation.
We can now only justify face to face GP consultations for people who need to have a specific examination carried out. This is needed to manage the flow of people through the practice, reduce the risks to patients and staff, and preserve the available supplies of PPE. We have found that most issues can be dealt with in this way, without the need for face to face examination, and we will be able to continue to provide effective services with these changes. If you have symptoms that you would like advice on, please do get in touch rather than waiting for things to get back to normal, particularly if you are concerned about potential cancer symptoms, heart problems, or any other significant health issue.
How to help us help you:
• Please make sure we have an up to date mobile phone number for you on your medical records.
We are increasingly using text messaging to let people know about appointments, send links to documents and issue electronic prescriptions. Having your correct mobile number is essential for these things to work, so please update this if it changes. You can provide or update your number via the NHS App (see Annex).
• Consider using the e-consult service available via our website.
We are providing a same day response to e-consults received before 4pm on any working day, so this is a quick and effective way to deal with health issues. Photos can also be attached.
• Do not enter the waiting room before the time of your appointment.
With our limited safe waiting room capacity, we need to minimise the number of people waiting. If you have arrived by car and have a mobile phone, you can also phone reception to let them know you have arrived and ask for the clinician to phone you when they are ready to see you. We will also be working on ways for people to check in and contact reception from outside the building. Depending on how things develop in the coming months, we will look at the feasibility of having an additional temporary waiting area to create additional capacity.
• Attend your appointment alone unless you need someone to assist you.
With the reduced waiting room capacity, we are not able to fit in several people per appointment and having more people in the building or consulting rooms increases the risks of transmission of coronavirus. Clearly children will need to come to their appointments with a parent / guardian, but where possible this needs to be 1 adult with the child and no other family members.
• Request your prescriptions online and have them sent electronically to a pharmacy.
You can use the NHS App or other online services to request prescriptions. Please also nominate a pharmacy to receive your prescriptions electronically, as this is more reliable and helps to reduce the number of people needing to come into the practice.
• Make use of our community link workers.
The pandemic will have created issues for many people with work, finances, and stress from uncertainty and isolation. Our community link workers can offer pragmatic and emotional support for anyone in need. You can contact them on 01235 849 445 or at communitylink.didcot@nhs.net .
We are all needing to rapidly adapt to the new realities we are faced with and we would like to thank our patients and our staff for the understanding that they have shown so far.
We are happy to hear any comments, feedback or suggestions that would help us provide effective healthcare, so please feel free to share these.
Annex: SETTING UP THE NHS APP: THE STEPS
First read through the steps before you start to ensure you have all you need ready.
• Go to the NHS website or download the NHS App to your phone
• Set up your NHS log-in details which will mean giving your email address, choosing a password and accepting the terms and conditions
• Reply to the email the app will send you to confirm your email address and log in
• Supply your mobile number. You will then be sent a text with a security number which you will need to enter to continue
• Then comes the hard bit. You can either register with your practice details which will require the practice to confirm you; OR you can register by submitting a photo of some photo ID such as passport or driving licence. This is how you do this: Submit the photo of your ID record a short video of your face as you say 4 randomly generated numbers Enter your date of birth Enter your NHS number if you know it or else the name and postcode of your home address
• The website or app will then verify your ID and should reply back within two hours.
If you cannot enter this information via the app then please contact the surgery and who will send you an online application form to complete. This will allow the practice to set up your access and then send you a link to the NHS app for you to accept.
Woodlands Medical Centre – June 2020