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Social distancing has been one of the greatest challenges from Covid-19 as we try to adjust to the new normal. Across the UK it has pushed many organisations to take big leaps in technology and online developments that without Covid would have taken years. Your local Doctors Surgery is no exception.

To help stop the spread GPs and patients have been conducting their consultations online.

Practices manage significant numbers of patients with long term conditions such as Asthma, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, COPD, Thyroid and those who require the contraceptive pill. These patients are required to be reviewed on a periodic basis to ensure their conditions are being managed, and that they are not deteriorating.

Doctors surgeries are now using TEXT MESSAGES to offer clinical questionnaires that will allow patients to provide information through a link to E-Consult on the Surgeries website, ahead or instead of their review appointment. This saves a significant cost for sending out letters inviting patients to call the surgery to make an appointment where the long term condition can be reviewed. The patient will also find the process more convenient. Allowing the patient to complete a review at a time that suits them.

Around 70% of patients now receive GP care remotely in bid to keep patients safe during pandemic

Data from the Royal College of GP's Research Surveillance Centre has shown that in the four weeks leading up to 12 April, 71% of routine consultations in general practice were delivered remotely, with about 26% face to face. In the same period a year ago, this was reversed with 71% face to face and 25% over the phone.
This has been a rapid revolution in the way care is delivered in general practice and as a College we are thankful for the way GPs, our teams and our patients have adapted to these new ways of working.

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

A practice in Cornwall sent 100 texts to their asthmatic patients. In less than one week they received 96 completed asthma eConsult review questionnaires. This cohort of patients had previously been sent letters by the practice inviting them for their annual review but they had ignored them.

There is no intention for general practice to become a permanently remote service – many patients want and need to be seen face to face in order to properly address their presenting problems – but having the technological capability to offer remote consultations, where appropriate, will be beneficial for general practice, the wider NHS and most importantly our patients, long after this pandemic has ended.

A decline in patients seeking medical help for conditions and illnesses unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic is concerning and could lead to serious consequences, as we have seen in previous health crises. As such, we want to remind patients that GP practices are very much open for business and if they are seriously ill or concerned about their health – or if, for example, they or their child is due a vaccination - they should contact their GP practice. In an emergency, they should call 999."

Paula Varndell-Dawes - East Cornwall Primary Care Network - Strategic Manager

© East Cornwall Primary Care Network 2020

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