It’s been an incredibly difficult time for us all in primary care this year and the challenges will continue as winter draws in.
Your GP practices and primary care staff are here for you and we are increasingly working together to ensure you can get the care you need.
Everyone has a role to play in reducing the spread of COVID-19, whether they work in the NHS or not. We are really grateful for the way people have rallied round and supported us, but it’s vitally important that we keep that going and don’t give up now on following the guidance on maintaining social distancing, good hand hygiene and wearing a mask when appropriate.
And please don’t forget that pharmacies are such a valuable resource – both for being the place where you can get supplies of common medicines, but also for their knowledge, if you need advice on various minor ailments.
COVID-19 Vaccination Programme
You will all be pleased to know that we have started the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme at Sovereign Health Network, and gave the first dose to nearly one thousand people in the week commencing December 14th. We expect the programme to take us several months to deliver in full and as soon as we have more supplies, we will be contacting patients with an appointment. The government has asked all surgeries to strictly abide by the priority cohort list that many of you will have seen published. The important thing to remember please is that we will contact you when we need you to come for your vaccine. You don’t need to call us. That should free up our phone lines to help those patients trying to contact us with a medical need.
When we offer you an appointment, please do follow the instructions. We are holding our COVID-19 Vaccination clinics in the building at Fareham Community Hospital rather than at the practices, so that we can continue to provide our usual medical services at the same time. Do arrive on time, wear a mask if you are able, and bear in mind that you cannot have the vaccine if you have had any sudden, serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in the past, or if you have symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of your appointment or a positive test in the last four weeks. You will need a second dose of the vaccine 21 days afterwards and we will arrange this at the same time as arranging your first appointment.
Seven ways to help us help you this winter
In the meantime, we ask that you play your part in continuing to protect each other and the NHS. Our practices and our hospitals are extremely busy, but we still want to hear from you if you have health concerns. Please contact us through the practice website, or phone us if you don’t have internet access. Here are seven ways you can help;
- Always follow national COVID-19 advice: Hands… Face… Space
- Don’t store up health concerns – contact your GP surgery online or by phone for advice
- Get your flu jab and be ready to respond when we contact you about a COVID-19 vaccination
- Make time for exercise to help your mental health
- Minor illness: keep some common medicines at home – just in case. Pharmacies can give you advice.
- Minor injuries don’t need ED; use:
- Minor Injuries Units
- Urgent Treatment Centre
- For urgent help, but not a life-threatening emergency, contact 111 first (111.nhs.uk).
On behalf of the GPs and all our staff across Sovereign Health Network, may we wish you the most healthy festive season possible…and thank you again for all your support this year.
Dr Tom Bertram, Clinical Director for Sovereign Health Network.