Covid-19 – a different way of working…

What hasn’t changed?

Highfields Medical Centre is, and has been, throughout the Covid19 pandemic, open for your health and medical needs. Our priority is to continue to maintain a safe environment for patients and staff. Contrary to some regrettable misconceptions, please be assured that we are open for your health needs.

What has changed?

  • The pandemic has resulted in major changes in the way General Practice operates and functions. We have been working hard under NHSE and PHE guidance to provide remote triage and consultations.
  • Patients can no longer directly book appointments face to face at reception – this is to ensure social distancing requirements are maintained to ensure your safety, and that of other patients and our staff.
  • Patients with long-term conditions will have their reviews mostly conducted either via telephone or video consultation. Where there is a clinical need, they will be invited for a face to face review.
  • Phlebotomy appointments continue to run, but are on a strictly pre-booked basis.
  • Baby check clinics continue to run, as do our immunisation clinics.

Vaccinations remain an important part of Healthcare and Disease Management and we encourage ALL our patients to attend their scheduled Immunisations, and not to postpone them. If you have any concerns about having your (or your child’s) Immunisations, please get in touch for a chat and discussion with one of our healthcare professionals.

Remote triage and consultations – telephone, video, eConsult (coming soon)

  • In line with NHSE guidance, we now operate a remote triage first service, via a variety of ways including telephone consultations, video consultations and are working on implementing e-consultations.
  • Many conditions can be managed safely remotely, but a Clinician will still book you in for a face to face review if this is clinically indicated to help with the management of your problem.

Why can’t I just book a face to face appointment whenever I want?

  • This new way of working is not to deny you a face to face appointment – it is to ensure that your problem is dealt with safely, correctly and as swiftly as possible by the correct team member, the first time round.
  • It is also to ensure that we adhere to social distancing regulations, which restrict the number of people we can accommodate in the waiting room at any one time.
  • It is definitely not about reducing our team’s workload – we have found that we are offering far more appointments than we used to, because there are now generally more appointments being offered in a working day, so in fact we have been working harder than we did before the pandemic.
  • Telephone and remote consultations are also more challenging and stressful for our Team, due to the lack of non-verbal cues when seeing a patient face to face. This is why it may actually take longer to consult someone remotely compared to a traditional face to face consultation.
  • We will continue to work hard to make this new way of working as effective as possible for you. Most importantly, it minimises any potential Covid19 risk to you, your family and carers, and our staff by ensuring that you are asked to attend the surgery only when it is clinically appropriate.

Thank you!

We know that changes are never easy, so the team thanks you for your cooperation and understanding, by NOT attending any of our 2 sites in person, unless you have a pre-booked face to face appointment arranged by a Clinician, or without prior discussion with a member of The Practice Team.

**Please DO NOT attend the surgery if you do not have a face to face appointment – please contact the surgery via telephone.**

You can contact us by calling:

Highfields Medical Centre 0116 261 6234 

Our phone lines are open 8am – 6.30pm (Mon-Fri, excluding Bank Holidays)

Belgrave Medical Centre 0116 253 4919 

Our phone lines are open 9am – 5.30pm (Mon-Fri, excluding Bank Holidays)

  • Our telephone lines remain very busy daily. Please be kind to our reception staff who are doing their best to assist you. We will not tolerate any abusive or aggressive behaviour targeted at staff or other patients. Any patients or relatives doing so risk being removed from the premises, and deregistered from the practice. You can read more about our zero tolerance policy here.

Possible outcomes after you contact us:

Advice, treatment, or signposting to alternative treatment via sms

  • Providing we have enough information in requests made, we may be able to provide you with advice or a prescription for your condition, or signpost you to alternative management options. This saves you from needing a face to face appointment at the surgery.
  • We currently use a software tool called Accurx to send you a text message, sometimes with useful links and attachments, hence it is essential that we have your up to date mobile number.

Telephone Appointments with an appropriate clinician

  • Sometimes it may be more appropriate for you to speak to a specific professional for your query e.g. a physiotherapist or pharmacist or social prescriber, or it may be that your query is best managed by the Clinician that knows you best, but who may not be working on the day you call.
  • You will be informed of this telephone appointment booking, usually via sms or telephone (please make sure we have your most up to date details).
  • A member of our team of Patient Services Advisors will always try and contact you at a convenient time for you, but please bear in mind that it may not always be possible to specify an exact time as this depends on any other urgent or emergency calls that the Clinical Team has to deal with on the day.

Video Consultation

  • You will receive a link to your mobile phone when the clinician is ready to start the video consultation. We currently use a service called Accurx, it is not necessary for the patient to download an app. Just click on the link you receive, and the rest is simple and straightforward.

Face to Face consultation at the surgery

  • Face to face consultations will be offered if a telephone or video consultation is not possible or appropriate to meet your health needs or query.

If you have a pre-booked face to face consultation please ensure you:

  • Arrive wearing a face covering, this does not need to be a surgical mask.
  • Use the hand sanitiser provided BEFORE using the touch screen.
  • Try to maintain a 2 metre social distance from other patients.
  • Try to limit the amount of time you spend in the surgery by not arriving more than 5 minutes before you appointment.
  • Attend alone, or with only 1 carer/parent as necessary.

What to expect when you arrive:

  • Clinicians may be wearing scrubs, PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) such as Visor, Mask, Gloves and Apron. This is for the safety of you and our staff, please do not be alarmed by this.
  • To reduce the risk of cross contamination we have locked our public toilets. Please try to refrain from asking the receptionist to use the toilet unless absolutely necessary.

As you may know from the national news media, the Government has announced a rapid expansion of the COVID-19 booster vaccination programme, with boosters to be offered to all eligible adults.  General Practice has a significant role to play in delivering these vital vaccinations and in line with NHS guidance our practice is temporarily focusing on rolling out this programme as a priority.

 

This means that routine services will be unavailable for a short period of time. Practices will continue to provide urgent care for patients, for example reviewing potentially serious underlying problems such as known or suspected cancer.

As a consequence of this national directive, practices will have to work differently and you might notice the following:

 

 

Our practice hopes to be able to resume normal service as soon as possible. We are following national guidance from NHS England and NHS Improvement, and local guidance from the Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland Clinical Commissioning Groups, who are supportive of our response to managing complaints. All complaints/letters/enquiries will be reviewed, and response provided at the first opportunity in line with clinical prioritisation.

 

Thank you for your patience and understanding, particularly when dealing with our practice team who are continuing to work hard to support the vital vaccine booster programme roll out.