Welcome to the July blog.
There is some good news in that we are returning to some elements of normality in our everyday lives as more shops, leisure venues and grooming services are now open – but we are by no means out of the woods in this pandemic. The risk of coronavirus isn’t over and you should continue to limit contact with others, wash hands regularly and wear face coverings on public transport.
I’m pleased to say that more NHS services are now able to reopen safely. If your planned hospital or clinic appointment has been put on hold due to the pandemic, you should have received a letter, email or phone call to inform you of this by your provider. If you have any concerns that you have not been kept informed you should contact them, or our patient services team can help via 01706 664170.
As for GP services, GPs and practice staff have transformed the way we give care to patients due to the need to protect them and staff from the risk of coronavirus and to maintain social distancing. The CCG worked with GP practices and partner organisations to respond to national guidance and put local solutions in place to allow primary services to continue via video consultation as a matter of urgency.
Practices moved to a total triage first system, patients with face to face appointments planned were contacted and triaged remotely. Where possible all appointments required following triage were done remotely either via telephone, online or video conferencing. Where a face to face appointment was clinically appropriate following triage, practices were still able to offer these once appropriate safety precautions had been put in place.
Patients adapted well to the digital ways of working and in some cases were able to feel more comfortable in the comfort of their own homes, reducing stress and anxiety that visits to medical appointments can sometimes cause. Digital appointments were more convenient, saving patients time and the hassle of waiting in telephone queues and enabling GPs to treat patients quicker.
We hope that we will be able to retain some of these better ways of working into the future to assist primary care with the ongoing capacity pressures that have built up, particularly over the last decade.
You may have seen some media speculation about the possibility that Rochdale would have to enter a local lockdown phase as has been the case in Leicester in recent weeks. The number is much less than the Leicester figures but, as we have several testing facilities the numbers are larger than some other areas in Greater Manchester, though thankfully falling.
The NHS is still there for you and NHS 111 is available online for urgent healthcare, you can receive advice about your main symptom, find out when and where to get help and be contacted by a nurse if needed. It’s important to use the service if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re unsure what to do.
As ever you are more than welcome to ask a question about coronavirus or another subject, or follow one of our virtual meetings held in public. The Governing Body will be holding a virtual meeting using Zoom on July 17th. You can submit a question that will be endeavoured to be answered at the beginning of the meeting. You can do this by emailing us at email@example.com, or by filing in the form at; https://www.hmr.nhs.uk/get-in-touch/contact-us/governing-body-meeting-enquiry.
Finally, I’d like to say that the last few months have been tough for everyone and now more than ever it is important to look after our mental health. Having good mental health helps us to relax more and enjoy our lives more, there is support and advice available, you can find out more here: https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/
Thanks for reading.
Dr Chris Duffy