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15 Mar 2020

Dear Patients,

In line with NHS England/Public Health advice, we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by making changes to our open surgery access. These will start from Monday 16th March and stay in place for as long as appropriate during the coming months.

This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but is in line with the actions of other GP surgeries locally and national advice.

The aim of this change is to ensure the safety of our vulnerable and immunocompromised patients and to protect staff and minimise sickness absence, in an effort to safeguard the safe continuation of GP services. In particular, we aim to reduce the time patients are waiting in close contact with others who may be infectious. This includes trying to prevent queues from forming outside the surgery door.

From Monday morning, all patients seeking an on the day appointment for OPEN surgery will be asked to contact the surgery by TELEPHONE to request an appointment. Our phone lines have a queue system so please be patient if you are asked to hold. We will answer your call as soon as possible.

Patients will then be contacted by telephone by the GP, so that the most appropriate advice or appointment may be given.

We respectfully ask patients to use the following guide to access services appropriately during the pandemic:

1) If you have a recent onset of COUGH, SHORTNESS OF BREATH, FLU-LIKE SYMPTOMS or TEMPERATURE over 37.8 degrees, please DO NOT ENTER the surgery, but return home.

Please self isolate for 7 days and see the website for further information.

If you feel you need more advice, please phone NHS 111.

If you feel the situation is an emergency, please call 999.

2) If you do not have recent onset cough/shortness of breath or flu-like symptoms, please telephone the surgery and ask for your name to be added to the GP's call list for the open surgery.

We will allow names to be added according to the usual times for our OPEN surgeries. Please ensure you have called before 10 am if you are requesting a morning open surgery appointment.

We will still be offering the same number of same-day appointments as far as we are able to, though have been asked to deal with more queries over the telephone than we usually do to enable less virus transmission during the pandemic period. If we feel you do need examining, we will be asking you to come to see us face to face as normal.

Access to pre-booked appointments is not changing currently.

We anticipate reduced staff numbers over the next few weeks and may need to reduce or delay some routine or non-urgent work to ensure we can continue to look after our patients safely.

A change of this magnitude usually takes some planning, but we have been asked to implement this swiftly in response to the pandemic. We ask for your patience and understanding in the coming weeks.

Drs Akester, Roberts, Gardner, Wright & Freer.

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