COVID-19 INFORMATION

Information on the Coronavirus - COVID-19

Dear patient

Just to reassure you we remain open and we are working hard to continue to provide a service to you. We are facing significant increased demand due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic as well as dealing with our own staff shortages. For this reason you will notice changes to the way we offer services and we ask for your support and understanding at this time.

Despite these challenges we are deploying more staff to answer the telephone and you may also have spotted we have introduced a new E-Consult service to enable you to contact the surgery in and out of hours for advice and queries.

Where we have had to defer patients for routine follow up appointments we are now starting to call patients in for these appointments priortised according to clinical need. Please also note that wwe are aware that some medication reviews are overdue and we are working hard to deal with the backlog.

Appointments

We ask you not to attend the surgery to book an appointment face to face and that you telephone to book an appointment instead. Alternatively please use the eConsult service on this website. This is available 24 hours a day and we aim to respond by 18.30 next working day at the latest.

If you are calling please be patient as we are dealing with much higher call numbers. In all cases you will be offered a telephone consultation with a clinician who will decide if you need a face to face appointment. If you are asked to come down to the surgery we ask that you arrive at the designated appointment time and we will do our best to call you in with minimal delay. You are required to wear a mask or face covering to protect you, other patients and our staff.

If you have arrived for an agreed appointment you will be allowed to wait in the waiting room where seating is marked to ensure appropriate social distancing is maintained. The clinician you are seeing will come and get you when they are ready to see you. Please do not be distressed that our staff are wearing personal protective equipment (gowns and masks) this is purely as a precaution and to protect you, our wider patient population and staff. 

We have been working hard with other GP practices across Thanet to establish a dedicated 'hot site' to see patients. The site has been established at Garlinge Surgery within the grounds of Westbrook House, Margate and will be staffed by primary care staff. It is intended that if patients have symptoms of Covid 19 or they are self isolating in a household where someone has shown signs of Covid 19 they may be asked to attend this site to see a healthcare professional. Full instructions will be given at time of booking. Please note this new service is strictly by appointment only. 

 

Prescriptions During COVID-19 Circulation

There has been a significant increase in the request for prescriptions. During this time we ask that patients do not request prescriptions earlier than usual. We can provide prescriptions up to 10 days before they are due.

To prevent medicines supply problems, we will not be giving larger quantities of medicines on prescription or providing 'rescue' packs where it is not deemed clinical necessary. We may also change your prescription to an electronic prescription which should make it easier to request in future. 

Requesting your prescription online may reduce your need to come into the pharmacy or surgery. We ask that you do this if you can by downloading the NHS App.

We aim to turn around a prescription request with 72 hours but please be aware that this may be affected by the significant extra demand for prescriptions.

We are aware that local Pharmacies are taking steps to manage their own demand including temporary closures and minimising the number of people in the pharmacy at any one time. There may also be disruption to some home delivery services. For more information please contact your pharmacy directly.

Electronic Prescripitions

We are upgrading to the next phase of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) which will mean that almost all our prescriptions will be processed electronically.

Electronic prescriptions help save the NHS money.

You will receive your prescriptions in the same way as you do now.

Read more about EPS on the NHS website.

The NHS is phasing out green paper prescriptions with most prescriptions now being sent electronically through via the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS). Almost all prescriptions will be sent electronically to the patients chosen pharmacy (known as their “nominated” dispenser).

From the 12th May 2020, even if you have not chosen or "nominated" a pharmacy, your prescription will still go electronically. You will be given an EPS token to take to any pharmacy. They will use the bar code on the token to "download" your prescription. 

The EPS token looks similar to the usual green prescription, but it won't be signed by your GP because this will now happen electronically. 

If it is not possible for you to collect the token from the surgery, the pharmacy can use your NHS number to access it. After some security checks they will be able to dispense your prescription. 

Having a nominated pharmacy is much easier; it means you can pick up your prescriptions without needing to collect tokens each time. You just need to ask your pharmacy or a member of reception to select your chosen pharmacy- it's quick and easy. 

 

Updated: 28th July 2020

Latest up-to-date advice on coronavirus

The public are being advised to Stay Alert, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.

If you have:

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)

new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Individuals should stay at home (self-isolate) for 7 days from the onset of symptoms following the current advice. If someone has serious symptoms they cannot manage at home they should use NHS 111 online (people should only call NHS111 if they cannot get online). You should not attend the Surgery.

After 7 days of self-isolation, people who feel better and no longer have a high temperature can return to their normal routine. If they have not had any signs of improvement after 7 days and have not already sought medical advice, they should use NHS111 online (people should only call NHS111 if they cannot get online) before they leave their home or let visitors in.

Cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean someone must continue to stay at home for more than 7 days.e have a duty to all of our patients and in particular those at greatest risk from Coronavirus as well as a duty to protect our staff which will enable us to continue to be here for you when you really need us. Accordingly we are looking at ways to limit the need for patients to attend the surgery. You are therfore likely to be offered a telephone consultation with a Doctor or other Clinician who will determine whether it is appropriate for you to attend the surgery.

Requesting your prescription online may reduce your need to come into the pharmacy or surgery. We ask that you do this if you can by downloading the NHS App.

 

Testing for coronavirus

We do not offer testing at the surgery. If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can ask for a test to check if you have the virus. This is called an antigen test. You need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms.

You can ask for a test:

  • for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms now (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms

You can apply on line for a coronavirus test

If you do not have internet access to book a test 119 is a new national number to call. With wider access to testing, the NHS is asking everyone to only request a test if you or someone you live with have symptoms now. The tests show if you have the virus - not if you have had it and may have developed immunity.

 

Ibuprofen or “Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory” Medicines

There has been some information in the media about these medicines. We would like to let you know that there is no proof yet that these medicines increase your chance of catching the COVID-19. If you are taking them for a long-term condition you can continue to do so.

If you have COVID-19, or think you have, the NHS has given advice. If you have fever, or aches and pains, they recommend using paracetamol instead of ibuprofen. It is considered to be less likely to cause side effects.

 

ACE Inhibitors and ARBs

There has been talk of link between COVID-19 and medicines named ACE inhibitors and ARBs. You might know these as medicines ending in -pril (e.g. Ramipril, Perindpril), or -artan (e.g. Losartan, Candesartan)

These medicines are used widely for high blood pressure, kidney problems, and heart problems. Stopping them without medical advice could cause these conditions to deteriorate.

At the moment there is no good evidence that these drugs cause worse illness for patients who get COVID-19.

The NHS recommends that you continue to take these medicines unless your doctor tells you to stop.

Advice on Antibiotics

Taking Antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that lives inside you to become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them. The resistant bacteria can spread to your family. This puts you and your family at risk of more severe or longer illness.

Antibiotics are vital for some serious infections, and are needed during cancer treatments, and many operations. We need them to keep on working!

Antibiotic resistance is a worldwide problem. General public, health workers and policy-makers need to take action to avoid the spread of antibiotic resistance. 

The staff at East Cliff Practice take extra care to ensure antibiotics are prescribed for the right person, at the right time, and for the right illness. If used carefully we can protect antibiotics and Keep them working! The NHS are also running a campaign named “Keep antibiotics working.” You might of seen leaflets in the practice or at your pharmacy. 

How you can help?

This is a summary of the advice given by WHO ( the World Health Organisation) about ways you can help to prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance:

  • Only use antibiotics that have been prescribed for you.
  • Never demand antibiotics if your health professional says you don’t need them.
  • Always follow health professionals advice when using antibiotics.
  • Never share or use leftover antibiotics.
  • Prevent infections by regularly washing hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, practising safer sex, and keeping vaccinations up to date.
  • Prepare food hygienically, following the WHO Five Keys to Safer Food (keep clean, separate raw and cooked, cook thoroughly, keep food at safe temperatures, use safe water and raw materials).

See this YouTube video find out what could happen if antibiotics stop working, and how we can make better use of these vital medicines.

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