The last 16 months have been very difficult for all of us in many different ways, whether you or people close to you have had Covid, or you have been affected indirectly in terms of your work, lockdown restriction, your mental health or otherwise. We have never been closed throughout the pandemic although our doors have been locked to allow only those who are expected into the building.
For us, it has been difficult due to the dramatic changes in how we have been working. As you are aware, throughout the pandemic we have been dealing with everything by phone in the first instance. We have then seen many people in the surgery where necessary or for the housebound, at home. We have worked at the Covid HUB at DGRI and sometimes cancelled time off to ensure we provide continuing service.
While many things can be dealt with safely and conveniently by phone, we know many patients want to book face to face appointments directly, and we are very keen to get back to seeing you in person too. We very much appreciate the understanding and patience of the vast majority of our patients over this last 16 months.
It does, however, take longer to see you face to face; we still have to observe social distancing rules, have to clean contact areas in surgery after every visit, and are vulnerable to being told to self isolate ourselves if in close contact with a case. This makes it hard to provide the same number of face to face appointments as we used to. We also have had increased demand due to many people suffering conditions that have not been treated due to delays caused by the pandemic. We have sadly seen a marked increase in people suffering from mental health problems, too.
We are trying to work out a new system whereby those who really need it can book directly for a face to face appointment, but it is important to continue to do things by phone where this is appropriate and possible. We are concerned that providing open access to appointments could make more delays, so have been planning carefully.
A lot of changes were already being planned before the pandemic, as we have been struggling to deal with the many conditions presented, as well or as quickly as we’d like. This was the case even before the pandemic. To try and help this, there are already increased services available within and outside the practice, without having to see a GP first.
Outside of the surgery, for example, the optician can deal with many eye problems, the pharmacist can deal with more minor conditions, and both are free and on the same day.
Within the surgery we now have additional support; we have an extra Nurse Practitioner (Nichola), who can deal with many of the same things as a GP. We have pharmacists (you may well have spoken to Chris Dunlop or Mandi McCabe), who have been beneficial particularly in sorting out medication problems. We now also have Mental Health Nurses (Lynne Rhodie & Mel Styles) and a physiotherapist (Ruth Bell) with whom you can book an appointment directly for appropriate problems that aren’t already being dealt with outside the practice.
We continue to work very hard to provide the best, safest and most personal care we can.
What can you do?
- Think about whether your problem may be dealt with as well or even better, by for example a community pharmacist, or optician
- Help our reception staff by providing information about the help you are looking for, they are trying to help you find the best care as quickly as possible.
- Be patient if we can’t always see you as quickly as you would like. We often have over a hundred unscheduled calls back a day, on top of routine telephone appointments, face to face appointments, home visits and administration (letters to read and to send, results to review etc.)
- however, if you have a problem which you think is urgent and serious, be clear with us, we will always see you the same day if it is a problem that really needs to be seen on the same day.
We will try to keep the website up to date with services, guidance and information.