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IMPORTANT MESSAGE TO OUR PATIENTS - 7.8.2020

Please wear a face covering when visiting Almond Road Surgery.

 Help keep yourselves and others safe by wearing a face covering at all times in this healthcare setting.

 This is a mandatory requirement, unless you are under the age of 11 or have a medical condition which provides exemption.

 As we are your GP practice, please help our team by allowing them time to check your records or speak with a doctor on site, if there is a query. If it is determined that it is safer for you to wear a face covering, please comply with our wishes – this is primarily to protect you and your loved ones.  

 Our care for you, your wellbeing and the safety of our team in continuing to care for our community will always be our priority.

 You can continue to access our services remotely, safely and securely, wherever you are by:

  • Telephoning us
  • Visiting our website and using our online consultation tool
  • Telephoning 111 or visiting www.111.nhs.uk

 Thank you for your ongoing support

Covid-19 Vaccine - Update - 9.11.2020

Headlines last week spoke of “Covid vaccine by Xmas from GPs”. What does this mean for me?

 Whilst we certainly would want to be involved in any vaccination campaign, we don’t have any information ourselves yet and contrary to media reports no ‘deals’ have yet been done, but we expect more information soon.

 Will you be getting paid to vaccinate us? 

 GPs hold a contract with the NHS to provide certain services. The money from that contract pays for the building, the heating and electricity, the nurses, receptionists and staff, clinical equipment and a variety of other expenses that go with providing services to patients.

 If the government wants GPs to do something new, (e.g. deliver a new vaccine) it will buy that service from the GP to pay for the extra staff, clinics and hours to cover expenses. It is very unlikely that GPs will make a profit out of the Covid vaccine. Based on current information they may make a loss, but recognise that it is the right thing to do for their patients and communities.

 But what we don’t know, if what we might have to consider stop doing, to free up time to provide this vaccination service, given that we are working at 150% compared with this time last year, according to our LMC’s survey.

 But isn’t it just like a flu jab?

 No, not by a long stretch.

 Flu jabs are delivered in their own little syringes, and kept refrigerated. They can safely last in a vaccine fridge for several months. We can keep them and use them, either in dedicated flu clinics or opportunistically if we see you for something else. We can run the clinics a bit like a conveyor belt, as I’m sure many of you will have experienced. We can get a large number of people vaccinated in a very short period of time.  People then leave the practice immediately. Once a year, job done. 

 So what’s different about a new Covid vaccine compared with the flu jab?

 These new vaccines are not yet ready, and we don’t know when they will be. They are completely different. They need to be stored frozen in special dry ice, colder than a home freezer (about -70°C). Surgeries don’t have those freezers. So they will be delivered whilst they are defrosting for use. However they can only be stored in a vaccine fridge for a few days before expiring.  They don’t come in their own little syringes. We will have to carefully draw them up from a main vial, dilute and mix them for each individual which will probably take from start to finish about 20 minutes, needing two members of staff (one to draw up, one to check - this is established safe practise with these preparations to minimise error). Once the patient has received their Covid-jab they must wait for 15 minutes to ensure no serious reaction -these vaccines are brand new, and whilst there is a huge regulatory framework to ensure their safety, we will have to take extra care.  This in itself will be difficult as we have to maintain social distancing and we don’t know how quickly these clinics will take place. It will be nowhere near as quick as a flu clinic.

 Will this be at my local GP surgery?

 To begin with, NHS England thinks that areas will have one central Covid-jab centre. This might be in a local practice. It might be yours, it might not. You may have to travel. How the chosen centre will continue to look after its patients ongoing and urgent health needs, we don’t yet know. No details of those plans have been shared yet.

 Is it just one jab?

 No. You will need two. They will be 3-4 weeks apart but you must not have had any other vaccinations in the previous week. 

 How many patients will get it the vaccine when it’s ready?

 Government says it wants 40 million people vaccinated (that’s 80 million appointments). Putting that into context, every year there are 40 million A&E attendances and 360 million GP appointments. This is going to take a long time. There are no spare GPs or practice nurses. We don’t yet know how we are going to plan for this on top of what we are doing now - managing hundreds of acute and chronic patients every day: on the phone, over video and being brought into the surgery by invitation.

 Will it be available by Christmas?

 No one knows. But if it is, there will be a very small number of doses and we think the Government might suggest protecting Care Home residents first. 

 Whatever you read in the paper or online, don’t forget - this is going to be very difficult. We need to make sure there is a safe system and a safe vaccine first.

 Even when it comes, it won’t prevent Covid, it will only make its effects milder. So please bear with us - we are in the dark too. 

 And there is still every reason to think ‘Hands, Space, Safe’ for a long time to come.

 Keep safe.

 

Flu 2020 - Will be very different this year - Patients please read

You may have heard the news about this year’s flu vaccine campaign.

 Cards on the table... this year will be a TOUGH year for practices delivering flu vaccines.

Why?

 We are still geared up for another Covid-19 rise.

 We will be doing vaccinations in PPE meaning changes between patients and cleans of the environment between patients.

 All that PPE has to be ordered, stored, shared out, restocked, disposed of.

 We need to maintain social distancing between patients, so no more crowded waiting rooms with a lovely catch up from others in your community.

 Social distancing means we have to make innovative use of our buildings, with one way in, one way out. Where that’s not possible, practices may look to hold clinics in community centres, town halls, supermarket car parks.

 A change of venue would mean notifying CQC, arranging cold chain (to keep the vaccines cold), and LOTS of planning.

 The additional group of people means lots more vaccines needed: practices order the vaccine a year ahead, so we now need to rely on NHSE / Public Health England to supply additional stock.

 Everything takes longer: PPE, cleaning, social distancing. So a clinic for 1000 people which used to be done in 3 hours could now take 8.

 The staff that deliver the vaccines and the administrators who support them in the clinics are already working flat out during the week, and now face the prospect of working additional long shifts at the weekends.

 The number of Housebound patients has increased with some patients still needing to shield, and home visits for them take much longer and are much more risky for the staff.

 Many practices are running on reduced work force as they have shielding staff, or staff who cannot see patients face to face due to their own risks.

 Thank you for reading this far.

 You may ask what is the point of this post? The main point is we found out this information the same time as you did, and although we have lots of ideas, there is still lots we need to work out, so please don’t ask to book in yet!

 We WILL let you know by text, Facebook, website or letter what the plan is.

 It WILL be very different this year.

 We WILL do our best as we always do.

 We are grateful for your support- please do share as every practice is in the same position.

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