Routine face to face appointments have now been cancelled for most patients, except the most vulnerable or urgent cases after being triage assessed by GPs.
Instead, patients are required to describe their healthcare issues online or to a call handler, so that GPs can make a clinical decision about how to safely provide advice and treatment.
The local NHS wants to ensure that the most vulnerable patients attending practices for urgent issues are not exposed to large groups of patients who could be carrying the virus without knowing.
The move also aims to help GPs prioritise patients with the most urgent illnesses and injuries while other parts of the NHS are under extreme pressure with Coronavirus cases.
Dr Nicole Atkinson, who is a GP in Eastwood and Clinical Lead in the local NHS system, said: “Practices across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire are changing the way they work to ensure we can safely provide care without bringing people to surgeries unless it’s absolutely necessary. GPs and other healthcare professionals are already stretched so we also need to use their time as efficiently as possible.
“It’s important to recognise, however, that this is a rapidly developing situation and we will need to continually change and develop the way we work as the situation evolves. Our overall priority is to protect local patients and ensure local people can access the services they need. We will of course keep local people informed about any changes that affect their ongoing care.”
People can help the local NHS and prevent the spread of infection by taking simple steps such as:
- Ordering prescriptions online
- Downloading the NHS App to access a range of services via smartphone or tablet. This will allow you to search trusted NHS information and advice on hundreds of conditions and treatments, and get instant advice or medical help near you.
- Using the NHS.uk service for the latest advice about Coronavirus
- Not attending your GP practice unless you have a booked appointment.
GPs are reviewing appointments on a case by case basis. Patients with a range of priority appointments will still be able to access face to face appointments.
Anyone who has symptoms associated with Coronavirus, including a new continuous cough and or a high temperature, is advised to stay at home for seven days. They should not book a GP appointment, attend their GP practice or visit hospital.
People who live with a person who has these symptoms should also stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell people if they need further medical help and advise what to do. Patients should use this service if their symptoms are serious or get worse. People should only call 111 direct if advised to do so by the online service or if they cannot go online.
For the latest COVID-19 advice please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.