COVID-19 General Practice

GP PRACTICES ARE WORKING DIFFERENTLY

This page was last updated on 21st May 2020

Your GP practice is still here for you.
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.
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.
Please be kind to your GP practice, they are working hard to get us through this!

Shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.

It is different from social distancing guidance and you are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter. Please note that this period of time could change.

People with serious underlying health conditions (listed below) which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) are strongly advised to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.

For further information on government guidance visit the gov.uk website.

If you are in self-isolation or are shielding yourself and you don’t have the support of family and friends but you need help with non-medical issues, Wigan Council have set up a dedicated helpline. Call them on 01942 489018.

There are a group of people who are at the highest clinical risk from Coronavirus (COVID-19). These are sometimes called “shielded” or Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people .

People in this highest risk category include people who:

  • have had an organ transplant
  • are having chemotherapy or antibody treatment for cancer, including immunotherapy
  • are having an intense course of radiotherapy (radical radiotherapy) for lung cancer
  • are having targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system (such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors)
  • have blood or bone marrow cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)
  • have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the past 6 months, or are still taking immunosuppressant medicine
  • have been told by a doctor they you have a severe lung condition (such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD)
  • have a condition that means they have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID or sickle cell)
  • are taking medicine that makes them much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids)
  • have a serious heart condition and are pregnant

People in this very high risk group should now have been contacted by NHS England or their own GP Practice. If you think you fall into this category, based on the information above, but you haven’t been contacted, please contact your GP if you are concerned.

People at highest risk from coronavirus need follow “shielding” measures to take extra steps to avoid getting it.

This includes:
• Not leaving your home for 12 weeks – you should not go out to do shopping, visit friends or family, or attend any gatherings
• Avoiding close contact with other people in your home as much as possible

This approach minimises all interactions between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.

Click here for more information from Public Health England.

There are also people who may be of increased risk from Coronavirus (COVID-19) for the following reasons:

• are 70 or older
• are pregnant
• have a condition that may increase the risk from coronavirus:

 

The advice for people who may be at increased risk from coronavirus is the same as for most other people – follow the guidance on social distancing. Which is to:

1. Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
2. Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible;
3. Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information;
4. Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together;
5. Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media;
6. Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

 

Click here for the latest Public Health England Guidance on social distancing.

Do use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

Stopping these activities will be difficult. You should try to identify ways of staying in touch with others and participating in your normal activities remotely from your home. However, you must not participate in alternative activities if they involve any contact with other people.

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/