Clinicians and staff in GP surgeries across Brighton and Hove have transformed the way that they work to keep patients safe and provide the care that they need during the covid-19 pandemic.
With the safety of patients and practice staff a priority, new measures have been introduced.
These include the creation of dedicated sites and areas within some practices so that anyone with covid-19 symptoms can be seen safely.
Those who feel they need GP appointments are being asked to contact their surgeries as normal – and not to arrive at the practice unless specifically being told to do so following an initial assessment by a suitably trained clinician.
Patients will be asked to give an accurate and detailed description of their symptoms and this will allow them to receive the most appropriate treatment.
It may not be possible for patients to be seen at their usual surgery, with local GPs having had to change the way that they provide care. After their assessment, patients will be directed to a specific site locally where their health needs will be dealt with in the best and safest way.
Any patient with covid-19 symptoms will be given an appointment at a so called “hot site” rather than their own practice. Hot sites have been formed by groups of practices coming together and identifying a single dedicated site to offer patients from their list a face-to-face consultation after their assessment.
Some GPs will be seeing patients without symptoms and patients with covid-19 symptoms who will be separated into special zones, so that they are kept isolated from other patients.
This will be undertaken in a safe way for patients and staff, and includes the introduction of dedicated hot consultation rooms, with separate entrances and exits to maintain isolation.
Existing GP premises will also be dedicated for treatment of those without any covid-19 symptoms or acute illness, to allow their management in a way that minimises risk of contact with any potentially ill patients.
Patients will be screened for any fever or cough symptoms, so only those who are considered well can enter. The facility will be arranged to maintain social distancing measures and limit patient numbers on site at any one time.
Infection control measures set by government experts will be followed at all sites and residents can be reassured of their safety, even when they are close to any site seeing patients with covid-19 symptoms.
As a minimum, a daily full deep clean will be completed at each hot site, including disinfection.
Wendy Carberry, executive director of primary care for NHS Sussex Commissioners, said: “We are urging those in need of a GP appointment to contact their practice first and not to attend until told to do so – which may not be at a patient’s usual surgery.
“General practice services are under the same pressure that is being reported around the country due to covid-19.
“Our top priority is to keep our patients and practice staff safe, while we ensure people can access the care they need in the most appropriate setting.
“Keeping GPs and their staff healthy is crucial so they can continue to care for everybody – and Sussex CCGs have been working together with practices to reduce attendance at practices by supporting and enabling the use of telephone appointments and video consultations where possible.
“Our plans around this are in line with regional and national guidance and we have developed this new approach in collaboration with local GPs.”
GP practices are making alternative arrangements to ensure these patients from the deaf community, people with learning disabilities, those whose first language is not English and anyone without access to a telephone can access appointments.
Seven key points about the hot site at Withdean
- Brighton and Hove CCG has commissioned Practice Unbound Ltd (HERE), who presently provide the improved access service across the city, to provide a site to see patients with suspected covid-19 symptoms. It was at the County Oak surgery and is due to be located within the grounds of the Withdean Sports Complex site from today (Wednesday 22 April).
- Patients cannot attend without being specifically told to do so – this is not a drop-in service and is by appointment only.
- Patients will be directed to the Withdean site from general practice or NHS 111 and will also be triaged by GPs on the site.
- Those arriving without an appointment will not be able to access the service and they will be asked to contact NHS 111 or their own GP.
- The site will deliver a service to people across Brighton and Hove who have covid symptoms or are isolated at home with household members with covid symptoms.
- Patients can only access the service by car, not by foot, part of strict infection control measures to ensure the safety of staff, residents and those being tested.
- The recycling centre has been relocated to the car park on the eastern end of the site, opposite the tunnel from the London Road.
This is a sponsored editorial on behalf of the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).