NHS services still ‘open for business’ in Newcastle and Gateshead
Friday 24 April 2020
Health officials in Newcastle and Gateshead are reminding people that the NHS is still ‘open for business’ after concerns that patients may be putting off using health services for illnesses not related to Coronavirus.
Despite mounting pressures across the UK, health chiefs are urging patients to continue to contact their local health services if they need medical help.
Dr Dominic Slowie, Medical Director at NHS Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Coronavirus is having a huge effect across the whole country, but it has not taken away other health care needs. People should not ignore symptoms and hope they will go away, or put off essential care like childhood immunisations.
“The quicker people seek help, the better their outcome is likely to be.
“It might not exactly be what you are used to – all GP consultations now happen by phone or video in the first instance, and many patients have been surprised at how well this works.
“If your doctor feels you need to be seen face to face, they can arrange a safe way for this to happen. It’s extremely important to seek treatment for your ongoing health care needs, so please call or email your practice when needed.”
GP services, pharmacies, NHS 111, out-of-hours services and emergency departments are still available to patients, with all NHS staff following strict infection control measures.
If you have Covid-19 symptoms like a persistent cough and high temperature, please visit www.111.nhs.uk, or phone 111 if you don’t have online access, for guidance on how to access specialist services for patients with suspected COVID symptoms.
GP practices have introduced safety measures to protect all patients and staff, with initial telephone ‘triage’ assessments to enable practices to prioritise appointments for those most in need and allow health professionals to provide the most appropriate treatment in the most appropriate place. It is important to not just attend go to the surgery – please phone or email first, whatever the reason.
Doctors are using telephone, online and in some cases video consultation appointments to ensure that continued care is provided to patients and health advice is also available by completing an online (eConsult) form on practice websites.
Repeat prescriptions can be requested online, or by using the NHS App. People without internet access should contact their surgery, who will advise them how to order their medication. Patients are being asked to plan ahead by not leaving it until the last minute to order repeat prescriptions to help ease pressure on community pharmacies.
For urgent medical help people are asked to make use of their local urgent care treatment centre where there are likely to be shorter waits but patients should still dial 999 in the event of a life threatening emergency.
“The NHS is here for everyone, and we are finding new ways to do lots of our usual work,” added Dr Slowie.
“It’s essential that we respond to the current situation by adapting to new ways of working, to allow those in greatest need to continue to receive the best, safest care as quickly as possible.”
For further advice on how to best use the NHS, and ordering medicines online, visit: www.nhs.uk.
For the latest advice on coronavirus including the symptoms and government restrictions visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.