We continue to monitor the ongoing developments regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19) and want to update you about the measures the Surgery is taking to protect you, your family, our staff and ourselves, and the wider community.
This newsletter will hopefully also help you to avoid having to phone the surgery at this busy time, when our service is under increasing pressure. We ask of everyone to explore all available online information from NHS/111 and the government (gov.uk), before contacting the surgery. We are working extremely hard to do all we can and need your support in order to concentrate on helping the patients who need us.
As explained in our previous communication: Please do not come to the surgery without initial telephone contact. To keep everyone safe we need to screen every patient and decide how they can be helped. In most cases this will be by telephone consultation.
We are using our RED zone to see patient who could possibly have COVID-19 and anyone who should be self-isolating, but needs to see a doctor or a nurse face to face. We will be using some degree of protection equipment for all face to face contacts in all areas, although more stringent in our RED zone.
We are now at the stage where COVID-19 is circulating in the entire country, including our local community. Therefore it is extremely important that everybody follows the government advice on social distancing. (see below)
Updated information and advice can be found on 111.nhs.uk/covid-19
Stay at home if you have either:
- a high temperature (above 37.8) – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly
- do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital but look on 111 online
If you are not able to manage your condition at home, phone 111 in the first instance or 999 if you are very unwell
- If you have symptoms, stay at home for at least 7 days
- If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms
- If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
If you are advised to stay at home because you or a family member have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever or cough as above), you can get an ‘isolation note’. This also applies if your symptoms last beyond the normal 7 days ‘self-certification’ period. Please do not contact the surgery. You can get this note and more information on gov.uk, search: guidance for employees covid-19.
Advice for patients with increased risks
NHS 111 are advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.
This group includes those who are:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant
What is social distancing?
Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.
- Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible.
- Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance on gov.uk for more information.
- Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
- Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
- Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.
Highest risk groups
There are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category the NHS in England will directly contact you this week with advice about the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. This is called shielding. You are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks. You may get a letter directly from NHS England or from your secondary care service or from the surgery.
People falling into this group are those who may be at particular risk due to complex health problems such as:
- people who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy for lung cancer
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment
- people with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets) and severe COPD
- people with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)
- a small group of additional people with multiple medical conditions, as identified by the NHS and the surgery
Looe Coronavirus Support Group
For patients who are self-isolating, following stringent social distancing and/or are reliant on the regular support of others who may also be self-isolating, including picking up shopping and medications, our wonderful community has rallied around and brought together a team of amazing volunteers to help.
You can reach them be calling 01503 804099, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm. Alternatively, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have no family or friends to help and you are unable to use the Looe support group there is also a government point of contact: gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable.
As you might remember from a previous newsletter we have teamed up with LIVI to provide free, NHS GP video consultations from your smartphone or tablet. The LIVI GP can access your medical records directly for this purpose. Appointments are available during evenings and weekends and can be booked in advance or at short notice.
If you need medical advice for other reasons than COVID-19, please consider using LIVI to reduce pressure on 111.You need to download the app to use this service and to register before you can book an appointment.
- Download LIVI from the App Store or Google Play. It works on mobile or tablet.
- Sign up and search for Old Bridge Surgery in the app.
- You’re ready to book (You will need some ID the first time you book – a passport or driving licence)
We are hoping to launch a new website with an online consultation facility this week, although this needs some preparation and there is already so much change that we cannot be sure about the timeframe at this point.
Finally, continue to keep connected with your friends and loved ones through phone calls, texts or the internet. Keep up to date through media and social media, but avoid excessive exposure. Make extra time for self-care and stress relief and if you are self-isolating, create a daily routine and keep busy.
Look after yourself, your family, neighbours and anyone vulnerable. Kindness and mutual support are much needed in these uncertain times.
Thank you for your understanding.
Dr Kodde, Dr Mogford, Dr Buchanan and Dr Roy