Axbridge and Wedmore Medical Practice Update
As I write this towards the end of July, I am sure, like us, you are very relieved that the number of positive cases of Coronavirus in Somerset is still very low. However, on the radio this morning it was reported that there are fears of a second wave coming which may even have hit by the time this is published. Right now, with the easing of lockdown measures, it may feel as if things are “getting back to normal”. However, in line with guidance from Public Health England, the surgery is still minimising face-to-face contact in order to keep our patients and staff safe. We are using telephone and video consultations wherever possible and we are grateful to all our patients for embracing the technology and helping us to work in this way. For any non-urgent problems, please go to our website and submit an e-consult giving us as much information as possible. We will then do our very best to get back to you by the end of the next working day.
For the time being our doors remain locked, Wedmore Surgery is still being used as our COVID assessment centre and, if you do need to be seen face-to-face, you will be asked to wear a face covering, your temperature will be checked upon entry and the person you see will be wearing full PPE. We have had a couple of dissatisfied patients who have been unhappy with these arrangements claiming that they were “ridiculous”. We would like to remind you that Coronavirus hasn’t gone away yet and probably never will. We are still following Public Health England Guidance. Our clinicians are not wearing full PPE because they want to. It is a necessity. We are not taking your temperature at the door because we want to take up your time. It is a necessity. We do not ask you to wear a face covering because we don’t want to look at your face. It is a necessity!
You do not need to buy disposable masks. A scarf or homemade face covering is sufficient. For guidance on how to make a face covering, please visit the GOV.UK website and search for “How to make a cloth face covering”. It is essential that you continue to practise social distancing with everyone outside of your immediate household and make sure you wash your hands regularly. Also, we have had a small number of incidents where patients have answered no to all the screening questions at the front door and then, when they have arrived in the room with the clinician, they have disclosed that, in fact, they do have symptoms of Coronavirus. This triggers a very time consuming and costly protocol which involves deep cleaning of the room and disposal of anything in that room that cannot be cleaned. Please be mindful of the government guidance and, if you have a temperature of 37.8 or above now or in the last seven days, and/or a new and continuous cough and/or a change in taste or smell, stay home and arrange to be tested. This is the only way that we will continue to minimise the spread of the virus.
We are doing our very best to provide services to you during this very difficult time. We need you to do the right thing if you do have symptoms and to understand and bear with us whilst we try to keep you and our staff safe.
Are GP Surgeries Open?
There have been reports on social media that GP Surgeries have been closed for the last four months. As I hope you will know, we can categorically confirm that this is not the case! We have been open for business throughout albeit providing services differently in line with the national guidance. We have also been made aware of rumours circulating that Wedmore Surgery is to close permanently. We would like to reassure you that this is also not true. We are keeping the Wedmore site as our COVID assessment centre as we have to keep anyone with suspected Coronavirus completely separate to the rest of our work. The Wedmore site does not lend itself to social distancing so it makes sense for us to keep this as our COVID site where we would only be seeing one patient at a time. This means that we can continue to provide the vast majority of primary care services at the Axbridge site which is our “clean” site. We do not know when we might be able to open Wedmore for any other services but we do not have any plans to close it completely.
As you may have heard in the news, the flu vaccine is to be made available to a much wider section of the population. In line with Department of Health guidance, we have to prioritise the original eligible groups in the first instance and then, subject to further vaccine being made available to us, we will roll out the programme to those aged 50 to 64.
We already know that the administration of the programme will be extremely challenging given the current requirements of social distancing and wearing full PPE for every patient. However, rest assured we have a plan! We will have the flu appointments ready for booking as of the end of August but not before. If you are in one of the at risk groups including being over 65 (by the end of March 2021), from September you can phone the surgery to book an appointment. Please make sure you arrive on time and be prepared to wait outside whilst socially distancing from other patients waiting. We ask that you bear with us if we are running a little behind time. This is the first time we have had to run a mass vaccination clinic under the Coronavirus restrictions so it may not all run smoothly the first few times we do it! We will do our best to vaccinate everyone in a timely, but most importantly, safe manner.
Staff will direct you through the process. Please do exactly as they ask. We have a very large number of patients to vaccinate and we are relying on you to help us by complying with our directions on entering, waiting, getting your jab and leaving the building.
Patient Participation Group
We are launching our new virtual patient participation group. If you would be interested in joining to give us your views on future developments please e-mail us on email@example.com. Please do not use this e-mail address for any other purpose.
Thank you for your continuing support during these difficult times.