COVID-19 General Practice

GP PRACTICES ARE WORKING DIFFERENTLY

This page was last updated on 31st July 2020

Your GP practice is still open
But, to help keep you safe, you can no longer walk in or book appointments online. You’ll need to contact your practice via telephone first and answer some questions. You may be asked a few more questions than usual. Some practices are also using Ask My GP or EMIS Online to communicate with patients. Please be patient, these new measures will help us keep staff and patients safe during this time. The majority of conversations with a GP or nurse are now being done via telephone or video calls. But, if you do need to be seen in person your practice will arrange this with you. If you do need to go in to your GP Practice you’ll notice it will look and feel different. Here’s how:

Please be kind to your GP practice, they are working hard to get us through this!

Greater Manchester Local Lockdown

Wigan Borough, alongside the rest of Greater Manchester and parts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire are now in a version of a local lockdown:

• Households can no longer mix with other households unless they have an official social bubble, either in houses, gardens or public venues
• Bars, restaurants, etc will stay open as people within households can still visit.
• You can continue to meet in public outdoor spaces (e.g. parks) in groups of six people
• Eid celebrations must follow the rules
• People living outside the area can travel in for work, etc and you can travel outside the area.
• Everything else remains the same unless it announced differently

The Government has published a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) which covers what you can and can’t do.

Shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable

People who are identified as clinically extremely vulnerable were advised to take additional action to prevent themselves from coming into contact with COVID-19 when transmission of coronavirus in the community is high.
From 1 August, the government will pause shielding unless the transmission of COVID-19 in the community starts to rise significantly. This means:

• the government will no longer be advising you to shield
• the support from the National Shielding Service of free food parcels, medicine deliveries and care will stop
• NHS Volunteer Responders will carry on delivering the food you buy, prescriptions and essential items to you if you need it. Contact them on 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm)
• you will still be eligible for priority supermarket slots (if you have registered by 17 July)

You may still be at risk of severe illness if you catch coronavirus, so stay at home as much as you can and continue to take precautions when you do go out. You can do this by washing your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and keeping 2 metres away from people outside of your household or bubble wherever possible.

From 1 August, you’ll be advised you could go out to more places and see more people, for example, the advice is:

• you can go to work, as long as the workplace is COVID-secure – but carry on working from home if you can
• children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can go back to school (when the rest of their class goes back)
• you can go outside to buy food, to places of worship and for exercise – keeping 2 metres away wherever possible

Government guidance including further information on schools and the workplace for those living in households where people are shielding. visit the gov.uk website.

NHS Volunteer Responders

From 1st August onward this service can support you with:

• Collecting shopping, medication (if your friends and family cannot collect them for you) or other essential supplies;
• A regular, friendly phone call which can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who is also shielding and will stay in contact for several weeks; and
• Transport to medical appointment.

Please call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm to arrange support or speak to your health case professional for transport support. A carer or family member can also do this on their behalf. More information is available at www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk

Ask My GP

In response to COVID-19 some GP practices have started to use Ask My GP. This is an online system that helps patients get quicker access to the most appropriate help. Check on your GP practice website if they are using Ask My GP. If they are you can sign up to submit requests online to get a quicker response from a GP.

If your GP practice isn’t using Ask My GP, or you can’t use it for whatever reason, you can still phone your GP practice as you normally would.

We’ve produced the following fact sheet that tells you all about what Ask My GP is and how it works:

Ask My GP Fact Sheet – final

Access to health care

Any essential carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit unless they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell).

People should continue to access the NHS services they need during this time. This may be delivered in a different way or in a different place than they are used to, for example via an online consultation, but if they do need to go to hospital or attend another health facility for planned care, extra planning and protection will be put in place.

It is normal during these uncertain and unusual times to feel anxious or feel low. You should try to identify ways of staying in touch with others Please take a look at our pages on maintaining your mental health during this time.

MANAGING YOUR MEDICINES

You can help your GP practice and Pharmacy by managing your medicines responsibly during this time:

1. Only order medicines you need for the next month.

Don’t stockpile. Don’t order early. Don’t over order. There will be enough medicine for everyone if we follow these rules.

2.Only request home delivery services if you really, really need to!

There has been an increase in the demand for home delivery of medicines. We need to make sure that these delivery services are available for people who truly don’t have any other means of getting their medicine. So, if you have friends, family or neighbours who could collect your medicines please ask them to do so.

3.Don’t ask your GP for items just because you haven’t been able to get them elsewhere.

We’ve seen an increase in people ringing their GP practice to try and get new items on prescription. Your GP practice won’t prescribe items that you don’t normally get.

4.Order repeat prescriptions online. Registering for online services at your GP practice will enable you to order repeat prescriptions online.

You can also set up for your electronic prescription to go directly to the pharmacy of your choice.

5.Be careful if you’re buying medication online.

If you’re thinking of buying medication online it’s important to check you are buying from a registered pharmacy. You can check this out on the General Pharmaceutical Council Website.https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/

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