New ways of working for General Practice

GPs across Morecambe Bay are continuing to see patients in innovative ways in order to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since lockdown was announced in March, GP practices around the country had to find new ways to run services, to ensure the safety of both staff and patients, with one of the main changes being the way patients access their GP.

In Morecambe Bay, patients who contact their GP surgery will most likely talk to a member of the team over the phone first and then a clinician will make a decision about whether or not a follow-up can be done by a video consultation, or if a face-to-face appointment is needed.

Dr Sarah Arun, Barrow GP and Clinical Director of the Barrow and Millom Primary Care Network said: “Although restrictions are starting to ease, with shops and restaurants reopening and people now able to spend time with their family and friends, we do need to remember that COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, and we need to stay safe, and carry on taking every precaution we can for the sake of ourselves and others.

“We’re finding that a lot of people can be dealt with over the phone, which not only saves them time, as they don’t have to travel to the surgery but it also limits the number of people they come into contact with and the risk to those patients.”

GP practices in Morecambe Bay were quick to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and have been working hard to implement new ways of working developed by the NHS in response to the outbreak. They identified areas in their own practice or a neighbouring practice, which are referred to as Red Sites to see patients with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, so they are seen separately and safely.

Dr Arun explained: “A lot of our population in Morecambe Bay are quite vulnerable and we need to continue to do everything we can to ensure their safety and we can do this by helping as many people as possible through telephone or video consultations.

“At the same time, we have put in place important measures, to make sure people can stay socially distanced, and with clinicians wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep them and our patients safe.

“Some of those new ways of working mean things take a little longer, and we just can’t see as many people as we used to in the same time,” she added: “An appointment with a nurse that once took 10 minutes, now needs 30 minutes to be allocated, so clinical rooms can be thoroughly cleaned between each appointment and PPE can be changed.”

If you do have a face-to-face appointment at a GP surgery, the below procedures will most likely be in place and you may experience one or more of the following:

  • Asked prior to your appointment if you have any COVID-19 symptoms
  • Asked to wear a face covering to your appointment (face mask or scarf)
  • Met at the door by a member of staff who will direct you
  • Requested to attend alone
  • Asked that you avoid using the toilet if possible
  • Some surgeries may take your temperature before you enter the premises

Dr Arun added: “We want everyone to know that we’re still very much here for all of our patients, we’re just operating in a different way, which will help reduce the spread of infection, therefore keeping everyone safe. We’d like to thank our patients who, throughout all of this, have been really kind by showing their support and we hope we can continue working together like this.”

If you require a GP appointment, please contact the practice you are registered at.

Medication can also be requested through the myGP app, which is free to install on any smartphone, for further information, click here