The Westgate Practice team care enormously for our patients and the community we serve and we have all been doing our utmost during the Covid19 pandemic to maintain services and deliver the hugely successful vaccine programme.
The Pandemic has brought massive change for the entire NHS and of course to our Practice too. In Spring 2020, we had patients with Covid19 in our community so we had to respond quickly and comprehensively to ensure we managed the risks for all our patients and staff whilst continuing to provide on-going services.
We acted swiftly and before national guidance was in place and subsequently have always complied with the NHS guidance on infection prevention and control and will continue to do so – the safety of our patients and staff is of paramount importance.
GPs and the many other professionals in our teams have seen patients face to face throughout the pandemic where appropriate or necessary.
In accordance with national guidance we have tried to assess (triage) patients issues on the phone and if a telephone or video consultation would not provide the answers we have seen patients face to face – this was very tightly limited until the vaccine programme was well underway but over the past 6 months we have offered more and more face to face encounters to patients.
Increased telephone consultations are also about ease of access, efficiency and safety and many patients tell us how much they appreciate this. In future when the pandemic is over, we anticipate that the practice will continue to offer a mix of appointment types
Whilst we may have been less visible, we are actually delivering more appointments than ever. Please see our weekly statistics on appointments below.
We know that it has seemed difficult to get through on our phone lines – particularly first thing each morning. However we have been inundated with queries about when vaccines would be available and patients keen to book. Additionally the practice has really struggled at times with shortages of staff due to isolation and sickness due to Covid19.
The pandemic continues to be a huge challenge for us all with over 40,000 cases daily and over 150 deaths still. There is no escaping that the strain on GP practices is very real and all our staff are feeling the pressures and we know this coming winter will be very difficult. Additionally the waiting list challenges in hospitals are likely to last for several years and this adds to the pressures on us all.
However meeting all our patient needs is very important to us and we have taken on a wide range of highly experienced colleagues to help us deliver services including clinical pharmacists, physiotherapists and more nurses. Triaging patients to the most appropriate person may feel restrictive, but it makes sure GPs are available when patients need them.
We have tried to communicate and explain these issues to our patients, we invested in a much improved website and have taken to social media to try and get our messages across and we have found in the majority our patients have been extremely understanding. We appreciate changes may have felt confusing and frustrating – the pace of change has been hard for everyone to keep up with, but we care enormously for our patients and promise that we will continue to do all that we can to serve our population and we would like to thank all those patients who have been so understanding.
What we did at the practice last week
- 3545 appointments with clinicians compared to 2593 in the same week in October 2019
- 898 Face to face appointments
- 3939 telephone calls were answered by our reception team compared to 2679 in the same week in October 2019
In addition the practice gave:
- 1211 flu vaccines
- 1000 COVID boosters