New updates posted on 19.05.20
Bank Holiday – Monday 25th May
The practice will be closed for the bank holiday on Monday 25th May. This is in accordance with national guidance, and also following discussion with Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group. Please call 111 (or 999 in an emergency) for medical attention on this day.
COVID Tests for Patients
Coronavirus symptoms have recently been updated and are now:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste
Any member of the public experiencing any of these symptoms should self-isolate immediately, and can now book a test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
Patients who are unable to access the internet can call 119.
Note: this test can tell you if you have coronavirus at the time the swab sample is taken. The test to tell if you’ve ever had coronavirus (‘antibody test’) is not available yet.
You need to have the test in the first 5 days of having symptoms. However, it’s best to ask for the test in the first 3 days, as it may take a day or two to arrange. The test usually involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud. You can do the swab yourself or someone can do it for you.
Please note: even if you are successful in requesting a test, the government cannot guarantee you will get one. It depends on how many tests are available each day in different parts of the country.
Staying Safe Outside Your Home
The government has recently published updated guidance outlining the principles you should follow to ensure that time spent outside your home is as safe as possible.
It has also published Coronavirus Outbreak FAQs: What you can and can’t do here:
Vitamin D Supplements
Public Health England has reissued and updated the advice on Vitamin D as people are spending more time indoors due to the Coronavirus pandemic: All adults living in the UK, should take a daily supplement containing 400 international units (IU [10 micrograms]) of vitamin D to keep bones and muscles healthy. This is because people may not be getting enough vitamin D from sunlight if they are indoors most of the day.
Vitamin D can be purchased from various retailers. GPs are not being asked to prescribe Vitamin D, unless for diagnosed vitamin D deficiency.
For more information on Vitamin D, see this patient leaflet produced by Buckinghamshire CCG. (Note: this has not been specifically produced as a result of this updated advice during the pandemic, but rather is a general advice leaflet on Vitamin D supplements).
New Updates Posted on 06.05.20
Below includes all new information added to our COVID-19 page on 06.05.20. Note: this information has also been added to the relevant sections of the main COVID-19 information page; however, it has been included altogether here for those who are checking the website regularly and only want to see new information.
Bank Holiday – Friday 8th May
The practice will be closed for the bank holiday Friday 8th May. Bucks CCG have arranged for routine primary care appointments to be available across the county delivered by a service commissioned from FedBucks. This will provide directly bookable, routine primary care appointments delivered from two sites in the county, as well as a visiting service during the day. This service will be in addition to, and dovetail with, the usual bank holiday out of hours service which will remain in place.
Patients can access the service by dialling 111.
Help Us Help You – please continue to access services when you need them
It has been reported nationally that during the pandemic there has been a significant decrease in people accessing NHS services, including primary and secondary care, for a range of conditions that are not related to coronavirus.
In particular this appears to be impacting adults and children attending at A&E departments for urgent and emergency medical issues (including for serious conditions such as stroke and heart attacks); cancer patients attending their ongoing treatments; and expectant mothers attending for regular scans.
Please make sure you continue to contact the surgery (or 111 service for urgent care needs or 999 in emergencies) and that you attend hospital if you have been told to do so.
This is the current situation, but of course things may alter in the future with the ever-changing pandemic situation, in which case we will update you.
In a previous update on 27.03.20 we advised that we had had to temporarily stop all private work to enable the practice to focus on providing urgent care during the pandemic.
We have decided as of 06.05.20 – although this may well need to change again at any time – that we will start doing private work again, providing that it doesn’t need a physical examination. If this is the usual process, we will endeavour to ascertain whether the assessment can be done without the need for a physical examination, given COVID-19 and the need for continued social distancing wherever possible; this will depend on the organisation requesting the information.
DVLA Medicals – Temporary removal of routine D4 medical for renewal of HGV licences
The government has announced a temporary relaxation of the requirement for bus and lorry drivers to provide a doctor’s medical report in order to renew their licence. Under the scheme, drivers will be able to receive a temporary 1-year licence, providing they do not have any medical conditions that affect their driving and their current licence expires in 2020. This will help to reduce workload for doctors whilst ensuring that drivers can still have licences renewed.
Drivers with health issues will still need to declare these, and those with health issues that prevent them from driving safely will not have their licence renewed. This temporary change will only apply to those drivers whose licences are due to expire or have expired since 1 January 2020 and not for those making their first application for a Group 2 bus or lorry licence.
New Oxford Health Mental Health Helpline
The coronavirus outbreak is worrying for us all. Now more than ever, we need to look after our mental health.
Oxford Health have launched a 24/7 Mental Health Helpline across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire to offer mental health advice during the coronavirus pandemic. The service is open to people of all ages from children and young people to older adults.
We encourage you to get in touch with the service if you are feeling distressed, overwhelmed or low, if you are struggling with relationships, feeling helpless or confused.
Adults: please call 01865 904997
Children and young people: please call 01865 904998
Complaints procedure during COVID-19
As you are all aware, the COVID-19 pandemic poses one of the greatest challenges that society has faced in recent times, and we have all had to make changes to our daily lives to ensure that we work together to protect the most vulnerable members of society. At Unity Health we have had to make a number of responsive changes following recent developments to ensure the maximum safety of our patients, and to protect our staff as much as possible to ensure that the NHS can keep working in an effective manner and can continue to provide the best level of care possible.
As such, during the current period of emergency measures many routine services will be subject to short notice change and many administrative tasks will be streamlined to ensure that we focus more of our time and resources on the delivery of care to those that need it the most.
As part of this streamlining of administration tasks, the Practice will be changing its complaints procedures during this challenging period.
With immediate effect, we will now be reviewing complaints on a weekly basis, to ensure that any high priority complaints that fall within the following categories can be swiftly discussed and any resulting changes to our Practice can be immediately implemented:
- Immediate risks to patients or staff
- Actual harm to patient or “near miss” incident of high severity.
- Urgent safeguarding concerns
- Criminal actions
Should your complaint not fall into these categories, then it will be dealt with when we have capacity to do so, and unfortunately at this time, the timeframe for this is uncertain. We appreciate your understanding whilst we are dealing with unprecedented demand.
Furthermore, it is worth highlighting that as of 26 March 2020, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (which is the organisation that reviews patient complaints where they cannot be resolved locally by the surgery) has stopped accepting new NHS complaints and has stopped work on open cases.
New Updates Posted on 09.04.20
Below includes all new information added to our COVID-19 page on 09.04.20. Note: this information has also been added to the relevant sections of the main COVID-19 information page; however, it has been included altogether here for those who are checking the website regularly and only want to see new information.
Easter Bank Holiday Opening Hours
GP practices have been asked by NHS England to stay open over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend in order to reduce pressure on the NHS111 service during the pandemic. We will therefore be open as normal on Good Friday (10th April) and Easter Monday (13th April) as below:
- Princes Risborough, Chinnor, Brill and Thame surgeries: 8.30am – 6pm
- Long Crendon: 8.30am – 1pm, for medication collections and telephone calls to reception only
Registering for Online Access
We are encouraging all patients to sign up to online access such that they can submit prescription requests online, from the safety of their own homes, during the pandemic. Please see the Online Access registration form. If you require access to appointment booking and prescription requests only (the first two options in the form), then you can simply complete the form and send it back to us. However, if you want access to other services, such as visibility of your full medical record, then you will need to provide proof of ID (driving license or passport) via email.
Please return the completed form (with ID if required) to the surgery which you are registered with:
- Princes Risborough – Unityhealth.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Chinnor – Unityhealth.email@example.com
- Long Crendon – Unityhealth.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Brill – Unityhealth.email@example.com
- Thame – Unityhealth.firstname.lastname@example.org
Prescription FAQs during the COVID-19 pandemic
The practice has prepared a document which gives answers to all the main questions you have been asking us to do with your prescriptions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Podcasts from Dr Amy Kerstein: quick and easy COVID-19 advice for patients!
Several new podcasts on COVID-19 have been recorded by Dr Amy Kirstein as below:
- 1. What to do if you think you might have COVID-19 – practical steps to look after yourself and tips for telephone triage
- 2. Thinking about what might happen if you get really unwell with Covid 19 – this talks you through the options in the unlikely event that you get very poorly and what you can expect if you go into hospital.
- 3. Contraception in the time of Covid 19 (Coronavirus) – Many usual contraception options are harder to get hold of at the moment, this podcast discusses safe alternatives.
“Shielded” or extremely clinically vulnerable patients
There is a subset of the wider at risk group described above who have clinical conditions which are likely to put them at the highest risk of mortality and severe morbidity from COVID-19. This group has therefore been recommended to undertake shielding measures for their own protection.
In order to be effective these people have to undergo strict social isolation with no contact from the outside world beyond that absolutely necessary, for a period of at least 12 weeks.
The following conditions have been highlighted as putting patients at intermediate, high or very high risk of severe morbidity or mortality from COVID-19:
- Solid organ transplant recipients
- People with specific cancers
- People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
- People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors.
- People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs.
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
- People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell disease)
- People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
- People who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
Most patients in this highest clinical risk group, who have been advised to shield, have been identified and contacted either centrally by the NHS or by secondary care clinicians. We expect more people to be identified shortly as NHS England is validating the centrally-held list against general practice data. People identified through this process will be sent a letter in the post and they will also be flagged in the GP system also.
A number of patients have self-identified as being in the highest clinical risk group on the government website. Practices will soon be sent details of any of their patients who have self-identified in this way and are being asked to review this list and consider if any of them should be included in the highest clinical risk group. If they should be, the practice will send you a letter and add a flag to your medical record.
Secondary care clinicians are reviewing people across specialties such as rheumatology, dermatology, gastroenterology, renal, respiratory, neurology, obstetrics, maternity and patients with severe specific diseases who cannot be identified through the central dataset. These patients will also be flagged on the GP system.
Practices have been asked to immediately review any ongoing care arrangements that we have for the highest risk patients. Furthermore, in the letter sent to shielded patients there is information in relation to getting support with medicine supplies and daily living. It notes that patients who do not have family or friends that can help, can also be directed to www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable to register for additional support with daily living tasks such as shopping and social care.
NHS England have produced these FAQs for patients which may be helpful for you to look at if you have questions on any of the above information
COVID-19 research trial
We will shortly be taking part in a trial run by The University of Oxford looking at whether hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for COVID-19.
We will be texting all potential patients (over 65 or under 65 with certain long term conditions) asking them, if they develop symptoms, to contact the trial team online to find out more about the trial and, if they are eligible, sign up. The trial team will then contact the practice who will randomise the patients and send swabs/medication etc.
We are pleased to be part of a trial that may help us to provide a way forward in the management of this virus.
COVID-19 and your personal data
The ICO recognises the unprecedented challenges the NHS and other health professionals are facing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The ICO also recognise that ‘Public bodies may require additional collection and sharing of personal data to protect against serious threats to public health.’
The Government have also taken action in respect of this and on 20th March 2020 the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care issued a Notice under Regulation 3(4) of The Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002 requiring organisations such as GP Practices to use your information to help GP Practices and other healthcare organisations to respond to and deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to look after your healthcare needs during this difficult time, we may urgently need to share your personal information, including medical records, with clinical and non-clinical staff who belong to organisations that are permitted to use your information and need to use it to help deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. This could (amongst other measures) consist of either treating you or a member of your family and enable us and other healthcare organisations to monitor the disease, assess risk and manage the spread of the disease.
Please be assured that we will only share information and health data that is necessary to meet yours and public healthcare needs.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has also stated that these measures are temporary and will expire on 30th September 2020 unless a further extension is required. Any further extension will be will be provided in writing and we will communicate the same to you.
Please also note that the data protection and electronic communication laws do not stop us from sending public health messages to you, either by phone, text or email as these messages are not direct marketing.
It may also be necessary, where the latest technology allows us to do so, to use your information and health data to facilitate digital consultations and diagnoses and we will always do this with your security in mind.
If you are concerned about how your information is being used, please contact our DPO using the contact details provided in our Privacy Notice.
New Updates Posted 27.03.20
Below includes all new information added to our COVID-19 page on 27.03.20. Note: this information has also been added to the relevant sections of the main COVID-19 information page; however, it has been included altogether here for those who are checking the website regularly and only want to see new information.
Changes to Long Crendon surgery
Due to staffing shortages and concerns about our ability to manage social isolation/infection control in the building, we have taken the difficult decision to immediately close the Long Crendon surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We will be open every morning (Monday to Friday) for collection of medication only, and to take telephone calls.
From 1pm we will be closed – please call our surgeries in Thame (01844 212553) or Brill (01844 238284) for assistance.
To protect yourselves and our staff, please ensure strict social distancing of 2 metres or more when collecting your medication.
Changes to Brill dispensary hours from Monday 30th March
Unfortunately, due to staffing shortages and the unprecedented volume of prescriptions we are currently processing, we have had to make the decision to reduce the opening times of Brill dispensary.
From Monday 30th March, the dispensary will be open from 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 6pm.
This is to allow our dispensers to have 2.5hrs where they can work uninterrupted, in order to manage the increased workload and to endeavour to keep to the 4 days’ turnaround from ordering to collection. Many community pharmacies have also restricted their opening hours for the same reasons.
To protect yourselves and our staff, please ensure strict social distancing of 2 metres or more when collecting your medication.
Note: Brill surgery normally closes on Thursday afternoon; however, due to the recent closure of our Long Crendon site every afternoon, we will be keeping Brill surgery open all day on a Thursday, until further notice. Dispensary hours will be as above.
Service provision changes
- Immunisations – the current guidance is that routine immunisations should continue to be delivered; however this is being reviewed at the national level at present.
- 6 week checks for babies / post-natal checks for mother – for the moment RCGP guidance is that we should continue to do these; however, wherever possible, these will be conducted via video or telephone.
- Private work – unfortunately we will no longer be doing any private work at this time, as per national guidance.
- COVID-19 related isolation notes:
To reduce the burden on GP practices a new online system, created by the NHS and the Department for Work and Pensions, is now live for patients to be emailed a digital isolation note. Isolation notes provide patients with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work. The notes can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online – see www.111.nhs.uk/isolation-note
After answering a few questions, an isolation note will be emailed to you. If you don’t have an email address, you can have the note sent to a trusted family member or friend, or directly to your employer. The service can also be used to generate an isolation note on behalf of someone else.
Repeat prescription requests
Please help us to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and DO NOT drop repeat prescription requests into the surgery.
Instead, these should be done via online access if at all possible. It is easy to set up if you don’t have an account already. Ideally you can do this without even calling the surgery (which would really help as our phone lines are currently overloaded) – just download on your mobile the NHS App. It will talk you through a number of steps to verify your identity, but you should then be able to get online access. Alternatively, please call the surgery and we can do this for you over the phone. For those who do not have access to the internet, we are taking prescriptions over the phone as an exception to our normal rule during the pandemic.
Below is a helpful graphic to explain how long you need to isolate, depending on whether you are the index case (the first person to contract the virus in your household) or another household member.
Rescue packs for asthmatics
We have been made aware of lots of fake news recently regarding all asthmatics to be issued with rescue packs consisting of antibiotics and steroids. This is not true; please click here to view a statement from the British Lung Foundation.