NEWS FROM PORT APPIN SURGERY
At last it feels like we are coming out the other end of the pandemic; however it is still too early to become complacent. As we move around more it remains important to stick to the social distancing and hand washing advice.
It has been a strange and difficult time for us all, but happily the number of cases we expected locally did not materialise, due, I’m sure, to all the efforts you made with self isolating, social distancing and looking after each other.
We are now looking at how we can start to open the surgery up more, and move to some semblance of normality. Unfortunately the design of the building makes it impossible for people to keep a reasonable distance apart coming in and out, so we need to stick to a policy of one person inside at reception at a time. The building is owned by the Health Board and we expect an assessment visit soon to see how things can be improved, perhaps with a new entrance to allow a “one way” system inside.
Because of the ongoing need to keep footfall in the surgery to a minimum we ask everyone to continue to use volunteer medication delivery services,and shared collections as much as possible. If you need to come to the surgery to collect medication please do so between 2 and 4pm if at all possible. When you come to the surgery, use the main entrance but be aware of the one person at a time rule and be prepared to wait outside if necessary.
We have been impressed at how many issues we have been able to manage effectively over the phone, sometimes aided by photos, and intend to keep this as a major part of the service in the future. Although face to face encounters are possible we are sticking to a “phone first”service in the meantime. However rather than simply “the doctor will phone you back sometime” we will now offer an actual phone consultation, with an appointment time. We ask you to be available to answer on the number given, at this time; and in return we will endeavour to call as close to that time as possible. If the matter can be dealt with by phone it will, and if not, a further appointment for face to face assessment will be made.
These have not been as popular as expected. I think this is largely due to technical and IT issues, but the system is there to be used so please try it if you wish. You are welcome to request a video instead of phone consultation.
Some people have been contacting us by e mail but we would ask that you do not initiate contact by this means. The problem we have is that the surgery e mail is very busy with correspondence from many sources and it is possible for a single message from a patient to be missed. We are working on protocols to avoid this, but cannot recommend it as a reliable means of communication. Once you have made contact by phone we may ask to follow this up by e mail, which is fine, as we will be expecting your message.
ONLINE APPOINTMENT BOOKING
We will soon reopen our online booking service to allow the booking of phone or video consultations. Please make use of this if you can, and let us know if it is useful. For the meantime, due to the access issues in the surgery, we are not able to offer face to face appointment booking online.
ORDERING REPEAT MEDICATION
We are aware that some people have experienced IT glitches in accessing the online repeat medication service. Our service provider is looking into this. Please persevere as access is usually gained eventually and it works well once you are registered. The other options of phoning the answerphone service, or dropping off your repeat slip are still available.
HOSPITAL APPOINTMENTS AND INVESTIGATIONS
Like us the hospital services are gradually restarting normal activities. If an investigation was arranged prior to lockdown this will still be in the system and you should hear in due course. Lots of outpatient clinic appointments have been done by phone and even physio follow up remotely has been surprisingly successful.
Finally I would like to thank you for your patience and support during this challenging time. I hope some good will have come of it and our service provision will benefit from the experience in the future.