Myth Buster 2023

Posted by: clarehartgen - Posted on:

Our Patient Participation Group have been collating a few questions from our patients that are commonly asked in the community for us to give you the real reasons behind what we do and why we have certain procedures in place.

When will the GP’s start seeing patients again?

We never stopped seeing patients even throughout the pandemic.  All of our staff worked through the entire pandemic, even those who were vulnerable and offered the option to be furloughed, worked through in the surgery. 

Many surgeries locked their doors, we didn’t.  What we did do is introduce the triage model whereby the GP would review the information given by the patient as to the nature of the problem and those who needed to be physically seen by a GP were invited in for a consultation.  Others were given telephone consultations, medications were issued where appropriate or advice given. 

We continue the triage model to this day and patients are dealt with on the same day with the appropriate method for them even if this is an appointment (in person or via the telephone) at a later date.  Our priority is patient safety and this is why we ask that you give our Patient Service Advisors as much information about your condition as you can.  They, and all staff, follow the same level of confidentially regulations as our GP’s.

Also now the pandemic is coming to a close the number of consultations is 20% higher than in 2018, pre-pandemic, with the same number of clinical staff, we really have never been busier.

Why do I need to tell the receptionist why I want to see a GP?

As we run a triage model it is vital that the GP is given as much information about your presenting issue as possible so they are able to make the right decision about your care.  Therefore, they have asked that the Patient Service Team take as much information from you as possible and this will require them to ask questions also.  Please be assured that they are bound to the same levels of confidentiality as your GP and therefore the information you give them will go no further than the clinician.  

If you feel you are not able to discuss the reason you wish to see the GP with our Patient Service Team you can complete an electronic consultation accessed from our website.  Once received the GP will triage in the same way they do the telephone requests and you will be contacted within 2 working days (often sooner).  This is also an ideal way of requesting an appointment, ask advice or request a sick note and can save you having to telephone the surgery and wait in line.

I want to see my/a GP, why am I being told to see someone else?

Unfortunately demand for appointments are at an all time high currently so it is vital that you are given the right information and direction to help you and it may not be a GP that is best to help.  Therefore, they may suggest that you consult another professional or even attend A&E.  It also helps to ensure that appointments for the GP are kept for those that are in need of GP care. 

It is always the GP that will make the decision what advice or information to give you.  It may also be the case that your GP is not in or has a full clinic that day so you will be directed to the best option available to you at that current time for your current condition.  We want to get you to the right person to help you first time around.

Why do some doctors not stay very long?

We are a training practice and therefore we have GP Registrars that come and do their GP rotation with us.  The timings of these vary from 6 months to 1 year.  Whilst this can be very frustrating seeing them move on so quickly after you have built up a rapport with them, they are a vital source of clinical personnel for us especially with the ever increasing demands on primary care. 

They are trained, fully safe to be practicing and all of their consultations are overseen by their trainer.  We have also been successful in the past in retaining some of our previous GP Registrars as GP’s here at the practice when we have had vacancies, which for us is a blessing considering the general lack of GP’s available to recruit in the UK especially to a rural practice.

We also have vacancies currently at the Practice so have had to recruit some long term locums who are covering until we have these vacancies filled. They are a more expensive option than recruiting a GP therefore they will only be in post until we have secured alternative personnel.

Why is the telephone message so long now?

As you may be aware, all Practices have had to change their telephone system to a cloud-based system that allows for queuing and callback features to be available to all patients.  We also must ensure certain messages are given to every caller.  Therefore, we changed our telephone system in June 2022 to a cloud-based system which allows us to fulfil these requirements.   Whilst we fully understand the frustration of a long message and options to pick from, unfortunately this is something that we have had to put in place, sorry.

However, to save waiting in line on the telephone you can also submit an electronic consultation via our website. Once received the GP will triage in the same way they do the telephone requests and you will be contacted within 2 working days (often sooner).  Using this service you can request an appointment, ask advice or request a sick note. 

Face Masks are useless, why should I still wear one? This is no longer mandatory.

Facemasks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as well as other virus and bugs.  This is why you will find that our GP’s will continue to wear a facemask when seeing you, especially if you are presenting with coughs, colds, sore throats etc.  This is to protect them and others, as best as possible, from contracting any infection you may have. 

In reality, they could pass this onto other patients they see who may be more vulnerable than you or they may become unwell themselves and unable to work.  Within a small practice this may result in the practice closing due to insufficient numbers of clinicians available resulting in no GP able to treat any patient and we have come close to this on a number of occasions. 

Facemasks are not fool proof but they do help massively in helping to prevent illnesses like COVID-19 spreading.  If you want to help prevent the spread of airborne illnesses, wear a facemask and ensure you wash your hands regularly.

The UK Government have the following information about reasons for using face masks and, just as important, how to wear them correctly and care for them.

The reason for using face coverings

COVID-19 spreads from person to person through:

  • small droplets
  • clouds of tiny airborne particles known as aerosols
  • contact with contaminated surfaces

When someone with COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release particles (droplets and aerosols) which may contain the virus that causes COVID-19. When in close contact, the larger particles can land in the nose or mouth of people nearby or be breathed in by another person. The smaller airborne particles can stay suspended in the air for some time and be breathed in. Viruses can also be picked up from the surfaces the particles land on if you touch that surface and then your face without washing your hands first. This is why regular hand hygiene is still important for controlling the spread of the virus as well as other winter bugs.

The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering will reduce the spread of coronavirus particles, helping to protect everyone.

It is important to follow all the other government advice to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. If you have recent onset of any of the most important symptoms of COVID-19:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste (anosmia)

you must isolate at home: wearing a face covering does not change this. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19.

How to wear a face covering

Face coverings with multiple layers and which fit snugly around the face work best. It is important that any face covering is worn correctly and handled with care. When people choose to wear a face covering, we recommend that they wear the highest quality one available to them, which should fit tightly around the nose and mouth and contain multiple layers, as these provide greater protection.

A face covering should:

  • cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably (a nose wire may help with fit)
  • fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face
  • be secured to the head with ties or ear loops
  • be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable, such as cotton
  • ideally include at least 2 layers of fabric
  • unless disposable, it should be able to be washed with other items of laundry according to fabric washing instructions and dried without causing the face covering to be damaged. Single-use disposable masks should not be washed and reused.

When wearing a face covering you should:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on
  • avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with your mouth and nose, as it could be contaminated with the virus
  • change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
  • avoid taking it off and putting it back on a lot in quick succession to minimise potential contamination

When removing a face covering:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing
  • only handle the straps, ties or clips
  • do not give it to someone else to use
  • if single-use, dispose of it responsibly
  • if reusable, wash it in line with manufacturer’s instructions at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric
  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser once removed

Make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched using normal household cleaning products. If eating in a café, for example, it is important that you do not place the face covering on the table.