Newsletter August 2021
Patient Participation Group Newsletter
A Message from the Practice
We are all aware that the remaining Covid restrictions have been lifted, however medical settings are a higher risk environment and will need to be subject to more control measures than other public facilities. Therefore, we are acting very cautiously and are maintaining
- Social distancing
- Face coverings
- PPE for healthcare staff
The Delta variant is more transmissible and patients may come to the surgery when they are contagious. It is our duty to do all we can to keep our patients and our staff safe, whilst we deliver our care.
Thank you - Dr Yule & Partners.
Did Not Attend (DNA)
The Practice has reported that an increasing number of patients are failing to turn up for appointments or don’t answer pre booked telephone calls. It might be that the reason for the appointment or call is no longer relevant, but every time this happens, it wastes clinician time which could be used to treat or advise another patient. If you no longer need an appointment or call, please ensure that you contact the Practice to cancel. If you receive a text reminder, then there is the simple option to cancel by text.
Could you be a Falls Buddy Volunteer? You will have weekly contact (approx. 1 hour) for up to 8 weeks with someone who is at risk of falling, to support their confidence and help them to remain independent. You will be trained to offer advice on balance and muscle strengthening exercises, as well as mindfulness techniques to reduce anxiety. Most importantly, you will be a friendly face and a listening ear.
Pfizer Vaccination Clinic
There is a 2nd dose Pfizer Vaccine clinic on Saturday 7th August at The Exchange in Sturminster Newton. If you had your first dose vaccine at the Exchange on 12th June, you will need your second dose on this day. If you haven’t heard from the Practice via text with regard to your appointment, please contact us after 10:30 to book your appointment.
The next clinic will be Wednesday 18th August in the morning only. This clinic is for those patients who had their first dose of Pfizer on Wednesday 23rd June. If you had a first dose Pfizer vaccine elsewhere and you need your 2nd dose and are registered with The Blackmore Vale Partnership, please either email the prescribing team or telephone, after 10:30 to book an appointment.
If you cannot make any of these dates or times please contact 119 or visit the NHS website to book your appointment at one of the mass vaccination centres.
Please make sure the Practice has your up-to date telephone contact information, should it have changed.
Following concerns from some patients about appointments in the current environment and rumours that it is impossible to have a face to face appointment, we asked the Practice Managing Partner, Sara Froud to put the record straight.
Prior to the Covid pandemic, the practice operated a flexible access system. This was made up of the urgent care team for those patients who need assessment on the day, for the onset of a new problem within the last 48 hours.
The urgent care team is made up of GPs and advanced practitioners (nurses and paramedics with advanced skills). We also have routine appointments which consist of telephone calls and face to face appointments with GPs. The clinicians and patients agree during these consultations whether a face to face appointment is required.
During the Covid pandemic we continued to use the same system, however all the clinicians moved across to Shaftesbury, allowing us to have an administrative hub at Sturminster Newton and a hot hub for patients who may potentially have Covid who needed clinical assessment. We also introduced video calls to those that would benefit and preferred that method of communication.
Routine appointments were limited as to how far in advance patients could book and the majority went through the urgent care team process, as we were unsure how many of our clinicians would need to either self-isolate, or might catch Covid and be unable to work for periods of time. We continued to provide practice nursing services including phlebotomy, leg dressings, smears, etc. We turned some of our chronic disease consultations into either video or telephone consultations, to limit movement and reduce the potential spread of Covid. We have clinics running out of Marnhull, Shaftesbury and Sturminster Newton and have done so, since Autumn last year. We continue to use the telephone consultation system and clinicians and patients agree at that time, if a face to face appointment is needed and if so, that’s usually on the same day as the telephone call. We provide home visits as clinically indicated and continued to do this throughout the pandemic.
The number of face to face appointments is around 50% of the work we undertake at present and that’s similar to the amount, prior to the Covid pandemic.
The majority of our nursing appointments are face to face
During this time we introduced other services to support both patients and Clinicians. For example, the social prescribing team provide health and well-being calls to the most at risk patients, physiotherapy colleagues phone at risk patients with exercises to keep them as mobile as possible while self-isolating an also, the introduction of our Peer Specialist Mental Health Worker who works alongside the Steps to Wellbeing service. These initiatives which started during the Covid pandemic are continuing.
We also provide first contact physiotherapy services using telephone triage and face to face sessions. We have clinical pharmacists supporting our patients in care homes and providing medication reviews for those patients who are on multiple medications. These sessions tend to be on the telephone or video.
Our Nurses, Paramedics and Doctors along with our administrative staff continued to come into work throughout the pandemic and deliver the services, albeit some in a different way, to safeguard our patients and staff. There were times when they had to self-isolate or were poorly themselves, due to this, routine appointments can vary between 2 to 3 weeks. However with our urgent care team, any patient who requires assessment or treatment will be assessed and treated on the day.
The demand for this service fluctuates throughout the week, however we would urge any patient who believes they are unwell to contact us. For patients that need emergency treatment, for example if they have chest pain they need to dial 999 as we are not an emergency service. As well as appointments offered, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, reviewing results and letters received from other services. Patients are duly contacted where clinical action is required. We also offer the e-consult service where patients can, via our website, send in an admin or clinical query/request. This is triaged within 48 working hours and either the patient is called in to be seen or a phone consultation made or an email response depending on the clinical need
As previously described, we have continued to be open and provide services to our patients over the last year or so during the pandemic. We did stop some routine work as requested by the Government and this has now started again. We unfortunately do have a backlog of reviews to undertake which we were unable to do previously.
Many reviews took place, but were undertaken in a different way to ensure the safety of those patients.
Our Doctors, Paramedics, Nurses, Physiotherapists, other clinicians and supporting administrative team are all working as hard as they can to support our patients' needs. Many have been doing extra hours to support.
Recruitment of GPs and other clinicians is very challenging nationally and we will continue to pursue as many avenues as we can to increase our capacity. We continue to recruit to the vacant posts we have and also, we have a wide range of other practitioners who are trained and competent to deal with issues presented by patients, these include physiotherapists assisting with new Musculo-skeletal issues, such as knee, back or hip pain, etc; mental health workers dealing with low level anxiety, stress, etc; pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, dealing with prescription queries, medication reviews, etc.
We have recently signed up to work with local pharmacies so that patients can be referred to them for a one to one consultation for a range of minor ailments, that they can deal with very effectively.
We continue to work with our Community Trust colleagues to provide some out of hours cover for the local community. We are also looking at other ways to meet patient demand that is clinically safe, effective and as efficient as it can be.
Since January we have set up clinics and have given more than 30,000 Covid vaccinations and continue to provide these to all our eligible patients. We have also used other staff, such as retired clinicians and locums to reduce the burden on our regular staff.
We will continue to work hard to ensure patients are seen as quickly and appropriately as we can within the limitations of our staffing levels.
Sara Froud, Managing Partner