Unity Health’s response to COVID-19: changes to service provision

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing widespread disruption across the country (indeed globally) and a level of strain on the NHS which has never been seen before.

As GP practices we are having to adapt our processes constantly, in real time as the situation develops.

The priority is to minimise patient footfall to the practice as much as possible to prevent spread amongst vulnerable patient groups, and to minimise risk to staff.

We have not yet made the decision to suspend all routine appointments; however, this may be something we need to do soon in order that we can focus on urgent care for those most in need.

Changes that we have put in place with immediate effect:

Visiting the surgery

  • Noone should be coming into the surgery unless they have a booked, confirmed appointment or they are dropping off a urine sample. (By a “confirmed” appointment, we mean that all patients should have received a triage call to ensure they do not have a fever or a new continuous cough.)
  • Only the patient themselves should attend the surgery in this case (and their carer, if needed).
  • Wherever possible, we will be conducting consultations over the telephone or by video consultation (including long-term condition reviews). For patients who have not done a video consultation before, we suggest you watch this short (2 minute) video which will help you prepare for your appointment.
  • In rare circumstances, a patient who has COVID-19 symptoms may need to have a face-to-face appointment in the surgery about a different acute issue – in this case they will be seen between 1 and 2pm, and the clinician will come to collect the patient from their car, provide them with a protective mask, and escort them into the surgery to our designated respiratory isolation rooms.

Appointments

  • No appointments can be booked at the reception desk – in the first instance, we encourage you to use the AskNHS app, or if this is not possible, please call reception to book an appointment.
  • We have suspended booking of face-to-face appointments online. Where possible, these will be available as telephone calls.

Changes to service provision

In line with national guidance, we have now stopped the following services:

  • Private work requiring a physical examination
  • Travel advice/injections
  • NHS Healthchecks
  • Coil fitting
  • Implants
  • Minor surgery/injections
  • Routine phlebotomy appointments
  • Spirometry
  • Loan of Blood Pressure machines or Ambulatory Blood pressure monitors
  • Non-urgent referrals (2 week wait referrals will continue but many others will stop as hospitals move more to respiratory care – we are waiting further information on this)

This is aligned with many practices both locally and nationally whilst we have to focus on providing urgent care to those who need it most.