Accessing Your GP Surgery from the 17th May 2021

Accessing Your GP Surgery from the 17th May 2021

We are working hard in Jubilee, Highlands and Whiteley through these extremely busy and unprecedented times to ensure we continue to provide the best possible access to Primary Care for patients in our community.

You may have seen news reports about accessing your GP practice, in line with the government’s guidance on the phased easing of COVID-19 restrictions, as part of our own roadmap out of lockdown.  This article is written to help you know what to expect from us over the next phase of the recovery.

From the 17th May our surgery doors will be open from 8am-6.30pm.  Access to care will remain the same and we kindly ask you to keep using our website and telephone to discuss your health needs. Our reception team is incredibly busy answering the telephones and responding to website requests or e-consults from patients; as a result we have a reduced reception service and will be unable to take bookings for appointments at the reception desk.

With COVID restrictions remaining in place, we must operate strict social distancing as well as limiting the number of patients in the building, so we please urge that you only come to the practice for your pre-booked appointment or for matters that cannot be resolved online or over the telephone.

Attending the Practice

If you do need to come to the practice, please remember to;

  • Wear a face covering
  • Follow the signage on the entrance doors for what to do if you have an appointment, a query or want to drop something off/pick something up
  • Arrive no earlier than five minutes before your booked appointment time

Once inside the practice, please remember to;

  • Provide your details for NHS Track and Trace
  • Sanitise your hands
  • Have your temperature taken if you have a booked appointment

Triaging Appointment Requests

In accordance with national guidance, all GP practice appointment requests will continue to be triaged before an appointment is booked, consistent with our approach over the past fourteen months. This is to get the best outcome for you – ensuring the right clinician deals with your issue at the right time. Please continue to use the eConsult function on your practice website by following the links Consulting Room | The Highlands Practice; Consulting Room | The Whiteley Surgery; Consulting Room | Jubilee Surgery

To give you an idea of the scale of our services, during April 2021 our GPs alone handled more than 8000 patient appointments, with the majority of those being resolved virtually by telephone or by video consultation.  Face to face appointments have continued throughout the pandemic when there has been a clinical need for one, and this will continue going forward.  We do understand that some patients prefer being seen face to face, and we will continue to provide that option when it is clinically appropriate (please see the FAQ section for more information).  Alongside the GPs, our other primary care clinicians have been hard at work too; our nursing staff offered more than 3000 appointments during April, our pharmacists have been doing medication and chronic disease reviews, and our Complex Care Team has been looking after our Care Homes and doing home visits.

Working together

Working as part of Sovereign Health Network has enabled us to accelerate our vaccination programme quickly, as well as improving the level of continuity for our patients during the pandemic. Many thanks to those of you who have praised our jointly run specialist clinics, which include flu clinics, cervical screening, diabetes and asthma clinics, coil and implant fitting clinics, and Saturday phlebotomy clinics as well as the COVID-19 vaccination programme.  Many of you also value being able to access the wider range of clinicians appropriate to your needs that we are now able to offer, such as direct access to pharmacists, musculoskeletal specialists and our health and wellbeing team, as well as being able to consult with us via our online option in the evenings. With your support we aim to continue and build on this broad range of services for our community.

We have put together a list of frequently asked questions for you, which can be found below.  We really appreciate your support as we continue to navigate this next phase in the national roadmap out of lockdown together.

Over the coming months we want to hear our patients’ views on our surgery, as we think about how we can continue to provide (and improve upon) the best possible access to our health services for the future in line with the NHS Long Term Plan, as well as what we know about population growth in our area.

In the meantime, if you have any ideas or feedback about any of our services, they can also be submitted via Ask the Practice a Question | The Highlands Practice

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I prefer a face-to-face appointment, can I have one?

Face-to-face appointments are available to all patients when there is a clinical need. You will be asked to discuss your condition over the phone or online with a member of the healthcare team first, to determine the most appropriate course of action and which practice member can best help you. Please tell us if you think a face to face consultation would be beneficial in your situation so that we can take this into account when assessing how to help.

I am still struggling to get through on the phone, can I turn up at the surgery to book my appointment?

Due to an increased demand for both online and telephone access to our services, and with the current COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, unfortunately we have a limited reception desk service. We will not be able to book an appointment for you at the desk, but if you do not have access to the telephone or internet and do need an appointment, our staff will be able to help you with submitting an e-consult form – please be aware there may be a waiting time involved with this service.

I used to go to my surgery regularly to discuss my health needs and prescriptions. Is it currently open?

The surgery is open. In order to limit the number of people in the building, help us prioritise patients’ needs and protect any vulnerable or ill patients attending for booked appointments, we are asking our patients to contact us through our website, through the NHS App or by telephone.  Prescriptions or medications can be ordered via the NHS App or on our website, or you can drop your request into the post box outside the surgery.  If you have a health need, please let us know by submitting an eConsult via the NHS App or on our website.  If you can’t go online, then please ring us and we will help you.  Current waiting times vary from on the same day for urgent matters up to about a week for non-urgent issues.

Your phone lines are so busy, what is happening to address this?

We are really sorry for the waiting times our patients are currently experiencing to get through to us on the phone. We are recruiting additional team members to our reception and administration teams to meet the increase in demand for our services. We apologise for the inconvenience, but please bear with this process over the coming 6-8 weeks.

I am under 40 and am now eligible for my COVID-19 vaccine. When will you call me in?

We are currently awaiting confirmation of a vaccine delivery with the appropriate vaccine for your age group.  As soon as we have this, we will arrange a clinic and send you a text message with an invitation (or telephone you if we do not hold your mobile number).

I need my COVID passport, but I am struggling to download the NHS app. Can you help?

From 17 May 2021, people in England who have had a full course of the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination status for international travel. A full course is currently two doses of any approved vaccine. Patients are being informed NOT to call their GP practice to get this information.  You can access this via:

  • the NHS App which can be downloaded from app stores (patients will need to verify their identity when setting up the app which can take up to 7 days)
  • the NHS website (from 17 May 2021)

If the patient cannot access these online services and they have had two vaccines, they can request a paper letter from the NHS by calling 119. They should only call 119 if they have had their second dose more than 5 working days ago. It may take 7 working days for the letter to arrive.

Help with the NHSAPP is available at www.nhs.uk/NHSApp

The practice is unfortunately unable to provide patients with a letter that shows their COVID-19 vaccination status.

I haven’t been invited for my 2nd vaccination appointment yet; when will I get my appointment?

Patients will have been expecting to receive their invitation for their second dose approximately 11 weeks from their first vaccination. As you may know, it has just been announced that those second dose appointments should be brought forward.  We have not yet received any detail about how this is going to happen, although we expect to hear more this week.  In the unlikely event that you haven’t heard from us 12 weeks after your first vaccination, you can contact the surgery by sending an email to fgccg.sovereign.covid@nhs.net.  Please only ring us regarding your second vaccination in the event that you do not have access to the internet.