As a country we can feel proud of the efforts we have made and the results achieved by the level 4 and 3 restrictions. There have been significant sacrifices made but we have done far better at limiting the explosion of cases with loss of life that other countries have suffered. This link to the Financial Times show some interesting interactive graphs. We don’t want to lose those gains.
Evidence from Italy was that GP waiting rooms were a significant factor in the spread of COVID-19 which is why we closed our waiting room on Monday 23 March, even prior to the first level 3 announcement. We cannot go back to a scenario where sick people are together in the waiting room risking the spread of viral infections to each other. We will continue to expect you to use your vehicle as your personal safe waiting room as much as possible.
Prior to entering the medical centre you will be asked if you have symptoms of possible COVID-19, in order to protect staff and vulnerable patients. We are keeping a sign in sign out book of all patients entering the building to facilitate contact tracing if needed.
With level 2 we will be able to start seeing more patients in the surgery. We will still aim to manage as much as possible by phone or video consult but Reception will be able to start booking appointments again provided you do not have any risks of a viral infection. The evidence that we have suggests the incidence of COVID-19 in the community is extremely low, especially in the Eastern BOP. To have certainty and confidence around this a lot of testing will need to still be done for anyone with symptoms that could be COVID related. At present this will still be done via CBACs. We are still waiting to hear what the plans for CBACs are in level 2 (there may only be a testing station). It remains crucial that if you have any symptoms of runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever or loss of smell that you get tested and don’t just arrive unannounced at the surgery.
Walk-in clinics remain suspended as this is a major risk of sick people congregating and spreading infection. If you would like to arrange a consultation please phone before 11:30am. Reception will then arrange an appointment if appropriate for phone/video/in person. This will, as usual, depend on availability. If things cannot be dealt with by Reception you will be placed on a “Phone Triage” list to be called by a nurse or doctor later in the day or later in the week depending on the problem.
Phone and video consultations are allocated the same amount of time as a traditional face to face consult and charged the same. Records are viewed prior, notes, referrals, lab request and prescriptions are generated and sent after so the remote consultation is not just the time spent on the phone or video link. Consultations for ACC and WINZ certificates can still be done by phone consult. Online banking is preferred to limit contact with cash/card terminal.
Routine nursing and screening services will be gradually reintroduced so appointments will be possible for smears, diabetes reviews and cardiovascular risk assessments.
We have been advised to defer Driving Licence assessments until Level 1. Licences that expired after 1 January 2020 have been extended to October so there is no urgency around these at present.
Influenza vaccination is still available and we have good supplies. This is available if you come to the door and knock between 9am and 3pm.