A message to North Lincolnshire residents from Dr Faisel Baig:
Dear North Lincolnshire Residents
I wanted to provide some clarification around face-to-face consultations in General Practice.
General Practice has had to undergo a transformation during the coronavirus pandemic. The health and safety of our patients and our staff has been our absolute priority. Earlier this year, this meant asking patients or their carers to contact practices by telephone or online, rather than initially attending practices. Clinical consultations have been taking place through telephone, video, online portals or face-to-face, depending on the clinical and personal needs of our patients. Bringing significant numbers of patients into General Practice waiting areas amplifies virus transmission. It was essential to implement such steps to limit the spread of the virus when there were significant numbers of coronavirus patients at the peak of the pandemic. These steps still remain important.
Telephone, video and online consultations, where appropriate, have not only helped limit the spread of coronavirus but many patients have given feedback that suggests they have found them particularly convenient. Especially where subsequent prescriptions have then electronically been sent to pharmacies that patients have chosen.
I, and many GPs I have spoken with, have found these remote consultations very difficult at times, as it has not been easy to build personal relationships with patients or pick up many of the non-verbal cues that come to our attention when seeing our patients face-to-face.
I would like to reassure everyone that face-to-face consultations are offered, where clinically appropriate, or if a patient or their carer is unable to access, or use, a telephone, video or online consultation.
During these difficult times, our General Practice teams have not only continued to provide face-to-face consultations within practices but local GPs have also staffed other important services. These include a specialist community Covid Isolation Clinic, a dedicated GP visiting service for our shielded patients, the local Urgent Treatment Centre and our GP Out of Hours Unit.
Our General Practice teams are here for you, and have been, throughout the pandemic, providing many thousands of appointments across North Lincolnshire. I am proud of the way General Practice has responded and I want to reassure you that we will continue to offer face-to-face consultations, where they are indicated.
These are challenging times for all of us and your patience and support are highly appreciated by your General Practice teams.
Dr Faisel Baig
Chair, NHS North Lincolnshire CCG
To contact your local GP services:
Telephone your practice or 111 (in the evenings and at weekends) or go online – directly to the practice website, through the NHS App or through 111.nhs.uk