NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG

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Access to Primary Care Services

All primary care services (GP practices, dental practices, pharmacies and optometry providers) are open and people can continue to access them as they have throughout the pandemic.

Here’s what to expect:

General practice:

GP practices in Lancashire and South Cumbria are open and continue to provide services as they have done throughout the pandemic. This means that for patients, their GP practice is open and providing GP services, with face to face appointments available to those who need them.

Please contact your practice by phone or online to begin with. You will be assessed and offered a phone or video appointment, or a face to face appointment if you need one. The majority of common conditions can be assessed and diagnosed by your doctor by telephone or video consultation. They are experienced and skilled in doing this.

The threat of infection from COVID-19 still exists within our communities, and locally patients are being asked to continue to follow guidance in place and take the necessary precautions such as wearing face coverings and practicing good hygiene.

GP practice buildings are public buildings and as such must be kept covid-secure. Your GP practice will already have a process in place for managing entry into the premises to help minimise the risk of anybody spreading the virus. Please continue to follow this.

New ways of providing GP services have been introduced in order to maintain access to your GP practice team while protecting you, others and staff. Triage (making an assessment of your condition and prioritising care accordingly) is an important part of how GP practices work. This has always been in place but has been vitally important during the pandemic.

GP Practices have been busy throughout the pandemic continuing to provide support to patients as well as being an important part of the covid vaccine delivery programme. Patients are being reminded that staff are here to help and should be treated with kindness and respect.

FAQs:

Is my GP practice open?

Yes, your GP practice is open. You can access GP services from your GP practice. Some of the ‘traditional’ ways of working have been adapted to protect you and staff from the potential risk of coronavirus. For example, how you access your GP practice building or how your appointment is undertaken might be different.

I would like a face-to-face appointment, when can I get this?

Not all conditions need to be seen by your GP in a face-to-face appointment. When contacting your GP, you will undergo an assessment (called triaging) of your needs and to determine whether you may or may not have COVID-19 symptoms. Based on this assessment your doctor or clinician will determine if you need a face-to-face appointment.

If safe and appropriate to do so a member of your practice clinical team may undertake your consultation via telephone or through a video consultation. This will help to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection to you and the practice staff.

How can my condition be properly diagnosed via telephone or video?

Lots of common conditions can be diagnosed using mobile devices, telephone or video thanks to the experience of your GPs and their ability to recognise the signs and symptoms of conditions from the information you provide. However, if they judge that it is safer and more appropriate to organise a face-to-face appointment for you then this will be arranged.

What if I can’t or don’t want to use video technology for an appointment?

If for a number of reasons, you aren’t able to have an appointment via video technology then your GP will arrange an alternative option – either a phone call, or a face-to-face appointment for you.

Can I still access other services from my surgery, such as ante-natal appointments for example?

Services such as ante-natal clinics, all vaccination programmes for example child and baby immunisations, and hormone injections for patients with prostate cancer have remained in place throughout the pandemic. If you are unsure what the arrangements are, please contact the service directly. Before you attend your appointment, you will be assessed to see if you have any symptoms of covid-19. The helps keep you, other patients and practice staff safe.

Where else can I get help?

Your community pharmacy can support you with a wide range of minor ailments. The majority of conditions can be assessed and diagnosed by your doctor by telephone or video consultation. They are experienced and skilled in doing this. Using technology like this will help to protect you, your family and loved ones – and GP practice staff from the potential risk of the virus.

If you need urgent help, use the 111 service either by telephone or online at NHS 111 online. Trained professionals are on hand to direct you to the best service for your needs and will be spoken to be a clinician if needed.

If it is a life-threatening emergency, you should call 999.

Dental:

Dental practices are open and providing services. Get in touch with your dental practice by phone or email for advice or an appointment. This may be by phone or video, or a face to face appointment if needed.

You may notice some changes have been made to keep you and your dental team safe. Your practice will look different as it observes social distancing and hygiene rules. The dental team may also be wearing different protective equipment to what you are used to seeing.

If you have an appointment with a dentist, please make every effort to attend. If you can’t please let them know in advance so they can give your appointment to someone else.

Pharmacy:

Your local pharmacy is still here for you and can provide help and advice over the phone – not just face to face. Pharmacies have measures in place to minimise the risk from coravirus.

If you receive regular repeat prescriptions, your GP practice may move you over to electronic repeat dispensing. Your GP can send them directly to a pharmacy of your choice, without you needing to take in your prescription slip. You don;t have to contact your GP surgery for a repeat prescription. Just order online in 3 easy steps:

  • Register with the NHS App or any other online ordering system such as MyGP
  • Order your prescription online or via the App
  • Collect from your nominated pharmacy

You can find out more about this on the NHS website. You can also use the website to find a pharmacy.

Our pharmacists and their tems are working hard to provide essential medicines and health services. Please treat them with respect and follow guidelines on social distancing and face coverings. Do not enter a pharmacy if you or anyone you live with has coronavirus symptoms.

Optometry:

High street opticians are open. If you are having issues with your eyes, please don’t put off or delay treatment. There is no need to do so and the consequences on your sight could be detrimental. If you need urgent eye care and you don’t have a regular optician, contact NHS111.