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Changes to our services due to COVID-19

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) we have needed to make changes to the services we provide in order to ensure patient and staff safety and reduce the spread of the virus. 

  • Please DO NOT attend the practice if you OR anyone in your household has a high temperature OR a new, continuous cough OR a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • It is also essential you do not attend the practice if you or anyone in your household is awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test OR if you OR anyone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19 and are required to self-isolate OR if you have been advised to self-isolate by NHS test and trace
  • We are open and offering face to face appointments in the surgery where needed when agreed by the clinician and patient. We continue to conduct consultations remotely (online/telephone/video) where appropriate. We are grateful for your understanding and support to help us manage your queries without attending the surgery where this meets your needs. Please help us to help you by contacting us using askmyGP rather than calling the surgery where possible and by including relevant pictures with your query if relevant (e.g. pictures of a rash).
  • For those who do not have internet access and who are unable to use askmyGP the practice can still be called between 0830-1000. For those who do not have internet access or a phone they will be permitted to come to the surgery to speak to a receptionist so that all patients have access to the surgery. 
  • All persons will need to speak to reception before entry; an intercom system has been installed at the front door. Those with possible COVID-19 symptoms or who have people in their household with symptoms will not be permitted to enter the building.
  • Where a face to face appointment is required patients must attend alone, with the exception of children (who may come with one parent only) and those who need a carer to attend with them. If you have any concerns regarding this please discuss them at the time of booking the appointment as anyone who comes with you will not be able to enter the building
  • Patients over the age of 11 years old will be asked to wear a face covering when visiting the surgery
  • Changes have been made to prescription ordering - read more about how you can order your prescription here
  • All prescriptions will be sent electronically direct to your nominated pharmacy
  • All sick notes will be posted or emailed
  • Staff seeing patients face to face will be wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment.
  • A drive through blood testing service is available for those who have access to a car. Please discuss this when arranging your review if you would prefer your blood test taken there. This may be especially helpful for patients in vulnerable groups wishing to limit their exposure to those outside their household but is open to anyone. Please note that the drive through blood testing service is moving from Monday 5th July and is now based at City Parkway, Parkway Avenue, Sheffield, S9 4WA. The drive through service at City Parkway will be open Monday to Friday, 7.30am to 5.15pm (excluding Bank Holidays) and Saturday, 8am to 1pm. 

Working in Partnership with Flowers Health Centre

  • Staff from the two practices that make up Forge Health Group (Pitsmoor Surgery and the Flowers Health Centre) will be working together to provide a service for all of our patients during the current crisis.
  • If you have symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19 and a clinician feels after remote assessment (telephone/video) that you do need to be seen face to face you may be asked to attend a GP practice in the city designated as a 'hub' for the assessment of possible COVID-19 patients.

Routine work

Due to the pandemic we have had to make changes to our routine work.

  • Late Wednesday opening is suspended to focus on core hours (0830-1800)
  • Annual and routine reviews are being carried out again at present. 
  • NHS health checks are suspended
  • Where suitable nurse reviews are being conducted by telephone, e.g. asthma and COPD reviews
  • Ear syringing is being conducted if ear drops have been unsuccessful
  • The contraception and sexual health-drop in is suspended - please contact us using askmyGP instead. Where a face to face appointment is needed this will be a booked appointment instead.
  • There is likely to be some delay in non-urgent matters, such as insurance forms and other letters as we deal with urgent medical problems. With regard to holiday cancellations and insurance forms, information is available on the website and you should not require a letter from your GP
  • We are operating limited minor surgery lists at present
  • Travel vaccines are being administered again. Please complete a travel vaccinations questionnaire first so we can assess what is needed. 

Please be reassured all essential blood tests for monitoring medication and essential injections will continue. Smear tests are still being conducted so if you are due for a smear you can contact reception to book an appointment for this. It is also very important that children's immunisations continue and the baby clinic and 6-8 week checks will continue as they have throughout the pandemic.

Dear patient,

We are writing to update you about some of the challenges the practice is facing and changes that we have introduced to combat them.

Firstly, we’d like to thank you for your patience and cooperation over the extremely difficult last 18 months. We understand that there have been many changes to the way health care has been delivered and this may have been unsettling and difficult to navigate at times.

General practice is facing unprecedented demand at the moment. This is a national issue. Current demand is at a level we would normally see in the middle of a bad winter, not the August holidays. As much as we would like to offer every patient the appointment of their choice and process all patient requests on the same day, this is simply not possible.

In many ways our ‘doctor first’ approach has helped us as we were already set up in the model the rest of the country has now adopted, and askmyGP is an invaluable tool in helping you access us and us manage your requests. ‘Doctor first’ means that rather than patients being able to book appointments directly, requests are looked at by a clinician first so we can arrange the most appropriate course of action. This will mean you having to provide information as to the nature of your request. We would encourage you to use askmyGP where you can, write as much as you want and add pictures. Please leave the phone lines clear for the elderly and vulnerable who have no internet access.

Before the pandemic we were seeing around 45% of requests in surgery. Due to concerns about spreading covid and maintaining social distancing this number has dropped significantly – at its lowest it was less than 10%.

Going forwards, with the relaxation of the rules, we are trying to provide more face-to-face appointments however these will continue to be offered only when the doctor feels it is absolutely necessary for you to attend in person. Many problems can be safely dealt with by telephone & using technology such as photos and video consultations. Please understand we are not in any way trying to ‘fob’ people off or avoid dealing with you.

At this present time, we have been advised to continue to ask patients to maintain social distancing within the practice building and we would also ask you to continue to wear a face covering if you are able to do so. This is for the protection of staff and particularly for vulnerable patients who are continuing to try to shield as far as possible.

As we have said, demand is at an unprecedented level and this, combined with staff absences due to sickness and isolation, means we are currently unable to deal with everything coming to us every day. For this reason, we have had to limit access by phone (to 8.30-9.30) and askmyGP (to 6-9.30) We understand how frustrating this is for everyone, including us as it goes against the open access ethos we were attempting, and previously succeeding, to provide. We are doing our absolute best, please work with us on this.

In addition to caring for our patients, we must also care for our staff. The nature of our work has become nonstop and emotionally very challenging. To give everyone a proper break for lunch, from September we will commence closing the practice every day 12.30 – 1.30. On Wednesday we will continue to close 12.30 – 2.00 to allow time for staff meetings and training. If we cannot protect our staff from abuse and given them regular breaks and the necessary training, we are likely to lose even more of them and this could possibly mean shortening opening hours and reducing access even further, so we really do need your understanding and help with this.

We are finding that many requests every day are ones that could have been dealt with elsewhere:

  • The local pharmacies run a minor ailments scheme where you can receive treatment for many of the common minor ailments which is free to you if you don’t pay for prescriptions

  • If you are ordering medication, please use the NHS app or Patient Access (speak to reception to set up or if you’ve forgotten your login) and order with enough time to spare for us to process it:

  • If you want to know the result of something organised by the hospital, please ring them not us
  • Regarding Covid: Please don’t ask us for exemptions for face coverings, letters to employers or proof of vaccination – we are unable to provide these.

Finally, a plea from us on behalf of all our staff to treat them with respect. We have been working tirelessly under relentless pressure and are doing our utmost to provide the best service we can. We will not tolerate abuse of staff and will take measures to remove people and/or involve the police if it occurs. If you have a complaint about any aspect of our service, please put it in writing to the Practice Manager.

Yours faithfully

Drs Hobbs, Jones, Kumar, Millington, Nagel & Shirt

Changes to Opening times on Wednesday:

Please note that we will now be closed from 12.30 and will reopen at 14.00.  

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