New Normal

Posted by: Mark - Posted on:

Over the last 6 months staff and patients at Charlotte Medical Practice have had to adapt to new ways of delivering and receiving healthcare in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.  We feel that we have all managed to do this exceptionally well and we would like to thank our patients for their support during this testing time.

Sadly Covid-19 doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon and so we are looking at how we can continue to deliver high quality healthcare to our patients whilst also maintaining their safety and the safety of our staff.

Over the next few weeks and months some services that were temporarily stopped as a result of the pandemic will be reintroduced, as well as implementing new ways of working.  This is so that we can protect the most vulnerable patients at higher risk of developing complications from Covid-19, whilst still providing continuing patient care.

We will retain the current triage model for all GP and ANP appointments in keeping with current government guidance.  This means that patients will be reviewed either over the phone or via the eConsult process in the first instance.  During the pandemic we have dealt with many health issues safely over the phone, and where appropriate we are utilising video consultation where patients have a Smartphone or tablet enabled.  This again reduces the need for patients to attend the surgery and allows us to implement social distancing more easily, however, only where necessary and clinically indicated.   

Telephone and video consultation will be used more widely and will extend to GP & ANP appointments but also some annual reviews of certain long term conditions with our nursing team.  We encourage patients to book a routine telephone consultation with the doctor that you would usually see; these should be used for ongoing long term problems and we endeavour to have appointments available for at least 2 weeks in advance

However this does not mean that face-to-face appointments will not be available.  They certainly will, and in some circumstances are absolutely necessary.  However these requests will still need to be triaged before an appointment is made.  

Please do not be offended if our Reception team ask you about your need for an appointment and give you have a telephone appointment in the first instance.

We have also increased the use of electronic methods of communication and on the 16th of June we launched a new online service called eConsult.  You can access this tool via our website – and use it for the following things

  • Ask about common health problems, including where to access help and how to self-care
  • Requesting things like renewing of sick notes
  • Asking general queries of our clinical team

eConsult has an option for you to add photographs to your enquiry, something we have been encouraging patients to do, which has really helped the clinical team deal with lots of queries around skin problems, eye problems etc. 

The eConsult platform is a secure method of sending your information through.  It also ensures that it is actioned quickly.  Any query you submit is added to your medical records and a member of the team will respond to you by the end of the next working day.  If an appointment is deemed necessary, we will contact you to arrange this.

We are encouraging the use of this system as it helps to relieve pressure on the telephone system and appointment availability, and ensures we capture as much information from you as possible. 

We have seen an increase in patients requesting repeat prescription via Patient access, via email or via our direct line answering phone service; and we are sending prescriptions straight onto a nominated pharmacy.  This has saved patients many unnecessary trips to the surgery to drop off and collect paper prescriptions.  We will continue this process and ask all patients to request their repeat medication in this way going forward.  Please continue to allow 48 hours for us to process your request, and be mindful that your chosen chemist may also request an extended timeframe to do their bit as well.

A Perspex screen has gone up in reception and we have significantly reduced the number of chairs available so that we can distance patients from one another.  We ask patients who do have appointments at the surgery to ensure they attend at their allotted time, if you attend early you may be asked to wait outside, if you attend late your appointment may be cancelled.  This ensures we have enough room in the waiting room to maintain social distancing.  We have also implementing signage to help patients keep to the 2m distance rule.  Patients are also required to wear a face covering when attending appointments.

The doors are locked but the reception is still manned, this is to encourage patients not to “pop in” with a query or request.  The eConsult service and our telephone lines are there to deal with general enquiries.  Please do not use the email address for your clinical requirements as it is not manned regularly. We are currently working with the Health Board to cope with the increased telephone demand at this difficult time.

It is a strange new world we are in, but please be reassured that these measures are being put in place to protect patients and staff and enable us to continue to provide high quality health care to all of you. Please bear with us during the next few weeks and months as we look to embed these new ways of working. 

We also update our Facebook page regularly with information on services so please follow us on @charlottempdumfries