How to access your GP
GP surgeries across Herefordshire and Worcestershire have remained open throughout the pandemic. To keep patients and practice staff safe, they have made changes to the way they work, limiting face-to-face contact where possible, to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
If you have concerns about a medical condition or need advice you should contact your GP practice as soon as possible. A delay in treatment can pose a risk to longer term health, so don’t put it off.
Appointments are available 8am-6.30pm on weekdays, in the evenings and at weekends and when you contact your practice they will help advise on the most appropriate appointment for you.
How should I contact my GP practice?
Please contact your practice by visiting our website at herefordshireandworcestershireccg.nhs.uk/about-us/our-members for non-urgent queries including administration requests or by phone. Please do not attend your surgery unless you have an appointment.
You can use an app such as the NHS app to order repeat prescriptions to access your medical records. This can be done at any time of the day or night.
Can I have a face-to-face appointment with my GP?
When you contact your GP practice, your needs will be assessed and you will be offered an appointment that’s right for you.
Face-to-face appointments and home visits are still available for those who need them, although many people will continue to access GP services via phone or video.
Practices offer a range of services on a face-to-face basis including phlebotomy (blood tests), immunisations and vaccinations, cervical screening, and health checks.
Are face-to-face appointments safe?
All practices have procedures in place designed to reduce the risk of catching or passing on coronavirus
GP practices are following national infection control guidance. Staff are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks.
Protective screens have been installed in many waiting areas and wherever possible social distancing guidelines are maintained.
Limiting the number of patients who are in the surgery at any one time also reduces the risk that the virus will be passed on.
If you need a face to face appointment please attend alone where possible and on time.
You will be asked to wear a face covering if you are able to and use hand sanitiser when you enter the building. If you usually have the support of a carer at your appointments, they will be asked to do the same.
Any additional instructions required for your visit will be communicated to you by staff when confirming the appointment such as waiting outside or using a different door.
Why can’t I have a face-to-face appointment?
Everyone that needs to have a face-to-face appointment will be offered one. During telephone consultation with your GP, your GP may request video consultations or request that you send a photo to assess the clinical requirements. If required, your GP would book a face to face appointment. We understand that this may not be a patient’s first choice.
Coronavirus is still circulating in our community and limiting the number of people who visit GP surgeries helps to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. It also ensures that our premises remain safe for those people who really do need to be seen face-to-face or who are unable to access online consultations or telephone services.
Extra cleaning procedures and social distancing rules mean that practices have less room in reception or waiting areas to accommodate patients than before.
Can my carer attend my appointment with me? Face-to-face, on the phone or online?
Yes, if you usually have the support of a carer at your appointments they can still attend with you.
If you have a face-to-face appointment your carer will be asked to follow all the infection control measures in place at the surgery and wear a face covering.
Your carer can help you to complete an online consultation form or can complete one on your behalf if they have been granted authorisation.
If you want your carer to join you for a face-to-face, online or telephone consultations please make your GP practice aware at the time of booking and they may give you some further instructions.
Are telephone/video consultations as good as face to face ones?
Telephone and online consultations are very effective and have been available in many practices for some years. Some people find them more convenient than face-to-face consultations.
The GP or heath professional who speaks to you will have full access to your health records and be able to provide advice, prescribe medication or refer you for further tests or treatment. They will also be able to decide whether a face-to-face appointment would be beneficial.
Why doesn’t my practice offer video consultations?
All GP practices across Herefordshire and Worcestershire can provide video consultations. Video consultations are normally initiated by the healthcare professional, however, if you feel more comfortable in seeing your healthcare professional face to face please request this during your telephone consultation. If you have asked for video consultation and your practice says this is not possible please talk to the Practice Manager.
When will GP services get back to normal?
Coronavirus is still in our community and as a result, these new ways of working are likely to be in place for some time to come.
Over the longer term the use of new technologies such as video, online and telephone consultation will continue to have a place in primary care, alongside face-to-face appointments.
We are working with Healthwatch Herefordshire and Healthwatch Worcestershire to understand more about your experience of healthcare during the pandemic. This will help us to improve and develop services in the future.
What do you mean appointments are available 8am – 6.30pm, evenings and weekends? My surgery doesn’t open currently.
A GP extended access service is available to all patients across Herefordshire and Worcestershire. These appointments are available early morning, evenings and weekends. This appointment may take place at a different surgery to the one you usually go to, and with a different doctor or nurse than the one you usually see. If you are offered a face-to-face appointment by your GP practice they may offer you an extended access appointment.
The surgery I go to is closed.
All GP practices across Herefordshire and Worcestershire are open. Some GP practices have more than one building where they see patients. We call these ‘branch sites.’
Branch sites are often small and we have agreed with some practices that they can close these buildings if required.
This is because national infection control guidance cannot be followed and it would not be safe for staff or patients to keep the building open. The practice itself will still be open, just operating from a single site.
You can still visit the practice website and use online consultation forms or call the telephone number to contact the team. The team who work at the branch site will work at the main surgery and if you need to attend the practice you will be asked to use the main surgery.
I think I need a referral to another service. Is there any point in booking an appointment if other services are closed?
If you have any concerns about your health you must contact your GP practice. It doesn’t matter if this is for a new or existing health condition. The health professional you speak to will have the latest information on specialist referrals.
I have coronavirus symptoms can I still have an appointment?
If you have an additional concern about your health please contact your GP practice first and don’t just turn up to the surgery. If you are asked to attend a face-to-face appointment this may be at a different GP practice to your own which has additional infection control measures in place so that they can treat patients with coronavirus symptoms.
If you have one of the coronavirus symptoms (new continuous cough, high temperature, loss of taste or smell) you must request a test as soon as possible and stay at home (self-isolate). You can request a test by visiting the NHS website or by calling 119.
If you live with anyone, or are in a support bubble, they should also stay at home. Get more information about how long to self-isolate.
What is the difference between online consultation and video consultation?
Online consultation is when you complete a secure online form about a health issue or request administrative query such as a fit note or repeat prescriptions. Practice staff would assess the details you provided and this may result in a telephone or video consultation with your care provider. All GP practices have the software to offer patients online consultations. You can find out how to do this through your GP practice’s website.
A video consultation is when you are personally talking and seeing a health professional over video. This will work with a device that has a camera such as smart phone, laptop or tablet. If you are asked to have a video consultation, your GP practice will give you instructions on how to do this.
Do you have more information about how to contact my GP practice remotely?
Video explaining how to contact your GP remotely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FO1LRq5FZpE
Health at Home – how to access NHS services online:https://www.nhs.uk/health-at-home/