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Coronavirus: Changes to be made to arrangements at GP practices in West Norfolk

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Changes to the way patients are seen by a GP or practice nurse are being introduced in West Norfolk and across Norfolk and Waveney as a whole in the coming days, officials at Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have announced today.

This means some people may be asked to go for their appointment at a surgery they do not normally attend, while others may be contacted for a telephone or video consultation or given online advice.

But for patients who want advice from their GP practice or an appointment, this process remains the same – enquire online or telephone first, and do not attend your GP practice without checking.

GP news
GP news

The NHS is also reminding people that GP practices are open on Good Friday and Easter Monday for essential services only.

There are two new and different ways of attending a face-to-face appointment if this is necessary, depending on what local groups of GP practices have decided is best for their local area:

1. Designated centres where people with coronavirus symptoms are asked to attend for a pre-arranged face-to-face appointment. These will be GP surgeries or other NHS facilities.

Where designated surgeries are put in place, these are only for patients from the surrounding area who have spoken over the phone to a GP either from their usual practice or from a new virtual clinical triage hub, and are asked to attend a face-to-face appointment.

They will be asked to go to one of the designated centres and phone on arrival. A member of staff will invite them in for their consultation or will see them in special drive-through arrangements.

In some of the designated centres for people with coronavirus symptoms, plans are being developed to undertake routine appointments in different ways, for example drive-through phlebotomy (taking blood for tests). Other GP surgeries in the area will be used to help people who do not have symptoms.

2. “Zoning” within individual surgeries where patients with coronavirus symptoms can be seen well away from patients who do not have coronavirus symptoms.

These new arrangements will separate patients so that important routine appointments can go ahead safely, for example childhood immunisations or antenatal clinics.

The majority of patients will be given advice either online, over the phone or in a video consultation. but if you are advised by your doctor or nurse to come in for a face-to-face appointment, you will be told exactly what to do and where to attend.

The instructions will depend on your medical need and what local arrangements have been put in place. People are urged to follow these instructions to help keep themselves and others safe.

Dr Anoop Dhesi, chairman of NHS Norfolk and Waveney NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We are in unprecedented times and all of our GP practices are having to make different arrangements to look after patients than we are used to. For example we are giving as much advice over the phone or online as we can.

“Your local GP practice is putting in place ways to separate people with coronavirus symptoms from those who do not. This will help keep everyone safe and ensure our GP practices have greater resilience to deal with the workload that coronavirus is bringing now, and in the weeks ahead.

“These arrangements might mean you have to travel further than normal to see a doctor, and we thank our patients for their understanding and support in these unusual times.”

Dr Paul Williams, a GP in West Norfolk, said: “The arrangements we have put in place mean that no member of the public living nearby needs to worry.

"Patients with coronavirus symptoms will be instructed to arrive by car and remain there until they’re escorted into the surgery, and leave in their car again.”

The CCG has the following advice:

Most people with coronavirus do not need to see a doctor – they should follow NHS advice to self-isolate and treat symptoms with rest and sleep, drinking plenty of water and taking paracetamol to lower their temperature.

Do not leave your home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.

Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do or if symptoms worsen.

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