Access to GP Services During the Pandemic

GP practices across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin are open for business and are providing a variety of different appointments to meet your needs.

With the pandemic, you may be feeling unsure about how to contact your GP practice to book an appointment and what to expect when you do.

Here, we provide a step-by-step guide on what you can expect when you contact your GP practice and what you may need to consider.

First and foremost:

Please do not go to your practice if you think you may have coronavirus or have one or more of the following symptoms.

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

There is further information on what to do if you think you have symptoms at: www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or the UK Government website.

This means you can quickly and easily get help and advice without leaving home or potentially putting others at risk.

There is also lots of information on a wide range of health issues and conditions at 111.nhs.uk along with details on how to treat symptoms and where to get help.

For life threatening emergencies please call 999. 

Only go to your practice if you have a pre-booked face-to-face appointment.

Whilst practices are open for business and safe to attend, when you call to book an appointment you should expect to be offered a telephone or video appointment in the first instance.

You will be seen by the most appropriate healthcare professional which may not always be a GP.

If you call NHS 111 first, a member of the 111 team will be able to book a telephone appointment with your GP practice directly if they feel that you need further medical advice.

 

Online consultations

Online appointments are available at most practices via the GP practice website. This will often save a face-to-face or telephone appointment and allows the GP or healthcare professional to deal with your query much more efficiently.

An online consultation enables you to contact a GP or other healthcare professional over the internet. It saves you waiting for an appointment or going to the GP practice.

As systems vary from practice to practice, we would suggest checking individual practice websites for up-to-date information.

Please note you will still be able to telephone your GP practice to book appointments if you are unable to access the internet.

You will be asked a set of questions, either online or over the phone, to ensure that you are referred to the best healthcare professional available.

 

Video consultations

Most practices can offer video consultations to patients which are usually done through a mobile phone application (app). You may be asked to download this app which a healthcare professional will be able to guide you through. 

The benefit of video consultation is that GPs and healthcare professionals are more likely to see more patients, as appointments are generally shorter. Personal protective equipment (PPE) also does not need to be changed between each appointment.

This is not to save time but to ensure the safety of both our patients and practice staff.

 

What to expect if you need a face-to-face appointment

If you would prefer a face-to-face appointment these are still available at request or where clinically appropriate.

However, during this time, a phone conversation or video call is a lot easier and it means you also get your prescription much quicker.

Please always trust your practice and be assured that their advice will always be centred on your best interests. If you need to be seen by one of our clinicians, you will be seen.

We would also like to reassure you that all GP practices have put in place robust infection prevention and control measures and are completely safe places for our patients to visit for face-to-face appointments.

As practices are experiencing fewer people coming into their waiting rooms, Government guidelines have been successfully implemented.  

These include managing social distancing within waiting rooms, one way routes through practices, requesting that patients wear face coverings and providing alcohol gel on arrival.

It is important to note that a face covering will be needed if you have an appointment at your GP practice.

This does not need to be a medical mask - the same face coverings now needed to enter shops and supermarkets in the UK are sufficient.

 

Personal Protective Equipment

On arrival at your GP practice for a pre-booked appointment, staff might look a little different.

You can expect to see our receptionists in masks and behind a clear screen.

Our practice clinicians will be wearing full PPE including disposable gloves, a disposable apron, a surgical face mask and a visor for your (and their) protection. 

To have your say on phone, video and online appointments, follow the link to Healthwatch Shropshire’s webform and share your feedback.