Thank you to all of our patients for your continued support and understanding through what continues to be an incredibly challenging time for everyone.
It’s been anything but a normal year for all of us, and at the Practice, we continue to work in a different way through a difficult situation to keep everyone safe. Thank you for being kind.
Many of you will have had to self-isolate over the past weeks and months, either because you or a family member has had symptoms of coronavirus, or a confirmed case. Things are very much the same at the Practice, and at times we are running with a smaller number of the team when we have colleagues at home self-isolating or unwell.
At these times, the reduced team are working doubly hard to make this our priority. Thank you for your patience, we continue to prioritise our work during this ongoing crisis and we will always strive to answer your contacts as quickly as we can.
If you’ve had an appointment with us over the past few months, you’ll know that we’ve introduced a new online service called Ask My GP. It’s a quick and easy way to get in touch for issues that we can help with and enables us to communicate securely by message or book an appointment for you if we need to.
At the moment, appointments are mainly offered by telephone or video call, it’s the same quality care you are used to receiving in the Practice, but from the comfort and safety of your own home, it’s convenient, we’ve had some really positive feedback and most importantly, it keeps everyone safe.
Most patient enquiries can be dealt with in this way, but if after triage the Doctor feels that your condition requires a face to face consultation, we’ll get that arranged for you. The Practice has in place COVID-secure measures to keep you and our team safe and you’ll be advised what to do before your visit.
With winter just around the corner and as demand for all health and care services increases, we wanted to let you know that if you need us, alongside other health and care options you might want to consider, we are here for you:
• The NHS website: NHS.UK is your complete guide to conditions, symptoms and treatments, including what to do and when to get help.
• NHS 111: Online 111.nhs.uk or call (dial) 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do. It’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
• Community pharmacies can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains. They are often open for longer hours and at the weekend and you don’t need an appointment.
• GP evening and weekend appointments are also available via the extended hours service, available from three locations across Bury in the evening and at the weekend. Check availability with the Practice.
• Community support: If you have a non-clinical issue and you aren’t sure who to contact, you might want some advice or are looking for support from a volunteer, our local Community Hub Hotline might be able to help, call 0161 253 5353 available Monday to Friday, 9am until 5pm. And don’t forget the Bury Directory for information about services, activities and events right across Bury.
Other things you can do to help us help you:
• If you are eligible, get your flu vaccination as soon as you can.
• Order any repeat prescriptions well in time, but don’t over order. You can order repeat prescriptions without having to phone us, online via Patient Services, or via the NHS App downloadable on the App store or Google Play
• Keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet and a well-prepared first aid kit containing things like cleansing wipes, antiseptic cream, plasters, pain relief and antihistamines, can help you deal with the most common illnesses and minor injuries at home. For a full list of items you might want to have handy at home visit The NHS website: NHS.UK
• If you have a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, it could be coronavirus (COVID-19). Self-isolate at home and get tested as soon as you can.
o Keep up to date on the coronavirus response in Bury and what you can do to help stop the spread: www.bury.gov.uk/coronavirus
o With walk-through, drive-through and bookable testing appointments available, if you have symptoms, find out all of your options and how to book: www.bury.gov.uk/coronavirus-testing
• Accident and Emergency (A&E) and the 999 service should only be used in a critical or life-threatening situation, for example trauma, chest pain or symptoms of a stroke.
Things are a lot different; together we’ll get through this
Our wonderful health and care services have continued to work tirelessly to provide high quality care through the most challenging of times.
Some services have had to be paused or be delivered in a different way, but local services have remained there for our patients when they need them most. Here in the North West we have been particularly badly affected.
We have all had to learn new skills and behave in different ways. Sometimes we are having to work out of our comfort zone, and this can be physically and emotionally exhausting for all.
Our GP Practices, like many health and care services, are under increased pressure; we are in a what is called the ‘recovery’ phase, where things that were put on hold are now coming back on line. Doing this in the midst of a ‘second wave’ is really challenging. It is likely that having recommenced some services, we are going to have to step them down again in response to the pandemic. This is both frustrating and upsetting.
As we head towards winter, we are also noticing that demand for GP services has increased. In March many people chose to keep their distance unless they really needed support, but there has been a change; from a demand perspective, things are getting back to how they were before the pandemic started, this is unsustainable. We are not working in normal times.
Managing this demand whilst in the midst of a pandemic means our Practices are continually having to adapt to this new world. The priority has to be to keep our staff and patients safe whilst ensuring that when a patient needs the support of their Practice, we are there for them.
Many people will have had to self-isolate at home, perhaps they or a family member have had coronavirus symptoms or have been confirmed positive. Our General Practice staff are feeling the impact of this too. With many staff needing to self-isolate, this has had a knock-on effect on capacity. It is humbling to see how teams are working hard to keep services running for our patients, despite these challenges.
During these times it might be a little harder to get in contact with the Practice, but everyone is working really hard to answer each and every contact as quickly as they can. Thanks to everyone for your support, understanding and patience.
We mustn’t forget that the pandemic has brought us opportunities to work differently. To reduce footfall in our Practices and keep staff and patients safe, we are providing the same quality care in new and innovative ways.
For now, the main options offered to patients who need an appointment with a GP or Nurse is by video call or by telephone. We know that most patient enquiries can be safely dealt with in this way. This is a real but necessary shift in the way we deliver care, change can be difficult, but many patients are feeling the benefits and welcome the opportunity to receive the same quality care at home; it’s not a lesser service, it’s a safer service. Every time we provide a video consultation, together, we are reducing the risk of spreading this virus which is so easily passed from person to person. If we feel a patient needs a face to face appointment, this will be arranged safely.
Many enquiries are now being dealt with quickly and without an actual appointment, via secure message made possible through online services like ‘Ask My GP’. This is making it easier for patients to get in touch with their Practice.
Our patients have been very understanding of this new and necessary way of working. We are in this together and need to continue to support each other as we are not yet over this crisis.
On a final but equally important note, I wanted to say, we can’t forget that health and care services don’t work in isolation, they rely heavily on many other parts of the ‘Bury System’. In times like this we see the best of people in the way they respond and work together, breaking down organisational boundaries and simply wanting to get the job done and the best outcomes for local people, together.
There are so many examples and I don’t want to miss any out, but wanted to share one example; I heard recently about a blocked drain affecting a care home which meant the home could not take in new residents from the hospital, releasing critically needed beds for poorly patients. Now more than ever we are relying on our wonderful care homes to keep our most vulnerable residents safe. The Bury Council team swung into action and were on site to sort the issue within hours, clearing the drain quickly and as a result helping to keep the care home up and running, and accepting patients from the hospital.
There is so much great work happening in Bury, so many examples of people pulling on all of their resources and energies and working together, our amazing volunteers and our Community Hubs are supporting people, offering befriending services and volunteering to help with tasks like shopping, gardening and walking the dog when vulnerable people need a helping hand and have no one else to support them. General Practice staff supporting Community Nurses, and Consultants supporting General Practice. The pandemic has and continues to be hard on everyone, but one thing it has shone a light on is our true team Bury spirit. At times like this you see the best in people.
It is a really difficult time, and we can’t lose sight of that, but there is also much to be proud of. People across all services, whether in the Council, the CCG and our One Commissioning Organisation, Primary Care services, community, hospital and mental services and our impressive voluntary sector, everyone is pulling together.
By supporting each other, by being kind, sensitive and tolerant to one another, and by looking after each other. We will get through this difficult time, together.
Dr. Jeffrey Schryer, local GP and CCG Chair