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COVID-19 - FAQs

We have put together some frequently asked questions to help our patients, and also help our team, who are getting many of the same queries come through to them.

Please remember the guidance is constantly evolving. We will update this document as often as new information comes out.

(Last update 19th June 2020)

I’m worried I have symptoms, where do I get help?

Ideally you would visit https://111.nhs.uk/service/COVID-19/ . If you don’t have online access, call 111.

What is a "continuous cough"?

This means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours. (If you usually have a cough, it may be worse).

Where can I get more information on vulnerable groups?

Information at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

I think I am in the "very high risk" group and need a letter - how do I get this?

The NHS has now provided practices with the criteria for patients who need to shield. These criteria have changed since the initial information was provided. If you are in this group, the NHS is sending you a letter. We do not have a timeframe as to when this will happen. To ensure that patients are not kept waiting, we are sending letters to everyone who is in the group to let them know the NHS letter is coming, and to give interim advice. This letter is being sent this week. Please bear in mind postal services are also disrupted.

More information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

If you think that you fall into the criteria in the link above, and have not received a letter from us or the NHS, you are welcome to flag this to us using the admin pathway of eConsult https://westendsurgery.webgp.com/ and we will ask your GP to consider this.

My employer wants a fit note for self-isolation - how do I get this?

We are not able to provide a fit note for patients who are self-isolating. Instead you should visit https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/

Do I need to tell you or 111 I am self-isolating?

There is no need to inform anyone you are self-isolating. Contact 111 only if your symptoms need medical help.

I’ve not heard back from 111 can you help me instead?

All patients with a fever or new persistent cough who are in need of medical help must visit 111 online or call 111. 111 are extremely busy, but will give you a timeframe for a return call. If your condition deteriorates, you may consider attending A&E or calling 999, but please remember these services are also under great pressure.

We do not currently have the infrastructure or equipment to see patients with symptoms in the practice – please do not call us or come to the practice; rather wait for your call back from 111.

NHS111 have told me I probably have Coronavirus. I need medical help, and 111 have told me to get medical help from  my GP - how do I do this?

Please submit an econsult report which will be assessed by GP, who may be able to assist you by econsult advice, telephone or video.

What if I've been told I have Coronavirus, or I am isolating due to a household member having symptoms, and my problem can't be dealt with over the phone?

You should call the practice for an assessment with the GP remotely initially. If they decide that you do need to be seen, you will be made an appointment at the local 'Hot Clinic'.

You should call the practice for an assessment with the GP remotely initially. If they decide that you do need to be seen, you will be made an appointment at the local 'Hot Clinic'.

In line with NHS England recommendations, West End Surgery is now closed for face to face consultations for patients experiencing high risk symptoms of COVID-19 (new persistent cough and fever >37.8c). Patients with COVID-19 symptoms who are deemed by a clinician to require a face to face consultation will now be seen at the locality ‘Hot Clinic’ based at Bursledon Health Centre.

We have separated the clinic for a number two main reasons: to reduce the risk of exposure to our patients and staff of cross-contamination, and to rationalise our limited Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) stock.

I’m self-isolating how do I order my repeat medication?

If you have set up your account online through the NHS App or one of the other online providers, you can order your medications there. You are able to set up the NHS App yourself, which is preferable to coming to the practice to show ID. Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nhs.online.nhsonline&hl=en. App Store: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/nhs-app/id1388411277

I’m self-isolating, and I don’t have online access

If you don’t have online access, and you are unable to leave the house, please call us to have an individual discussion.

I’ve not had an inhaler for a while can I get a new one?

If your inhaler has expired, it has run out, or you don’t currently have one, the best way to request a new one is using online services, e.g. the NHS App.

If the inhaler is no longer on your repeat medication, please submit an eConsult. If you require it because you currently have problems with your asthma / other lung disease, please use the appropriate pathway (e.g. breathing difficulties). If you have no current problems but need a new inhaler, use the administration pathway.

I’m worried about bringing my baby for immunisations, can I delay? 

We are currently recommending that you still bring your child in for their immunisations, unless they have a cough or fever. We have a separate waiting room for “well” patients, and it is possible to make arrangements for you to wait in your car prior to be called in for the injection.

I’m due a blood test for my INR monitoring, should I still come in?

Yes, unless you have a cough or fever. It is important to continue monitoring your bloods for medications if you have already been asked to do this.

I’m due a blood test for my INR monitoring but I’m self-isolating, how do I get this done? Can it wait?

It is important to continue monitoring your bloods for medications if you have already been asked to do this. If you are self-isolating for 2 weeks, you can delay your test. If you are shielding, we can book you in to the first slot of the day to reduce your risk. If you are unwell, please contact the practice by telephone for advice.

I’ve had a baby recently – how will I get the baby check?

We are currently completing our baby checks at the same time as their 8 week immunisations to reduce footfall in the practice. This will automatically be booked at the same time.

Can I get three months of medication?

We are complying with national advice and issuing the normal supply of medication to prevent shortages at pharmacies. There is no need to stockpile as there is plenty of supply if everyone manages their medication responsibly.

I can’t get any paracetamol / calpol in the shops; can I have it on prescription?

We are complying with national advice and not offering prophylactic pain relief on prescription. Please speak to your pharmacist for advice on how to obtain this over the counter.

I’ve heard I shouldn’t be taking my NSAIDS (e.g. Ibuprofen); do I need to speak to a GP?

NHS England is currently recommending patients take paracetamol rather than NSAIDS if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. This is because there is some evidence that NSAIDS can affect the ability of the body to respond to this infection. Patients who take NSAIDS for other conditions can continue to take these are normal.

I want to be medically prepared – what should I have at home?

The most important measure to help make you comfortable is good hydration. Paracetamol can help with fever or pain (make sure you follow the instructions on the patient leaflet). A thermometer can be useful for small children if they are being managed through telephone or video advice from a clinician. More information regarding children and managing their illnesses is at https://what0-18.nhs.uk/

I am shielding but need to see a GP / Nurse / Phlebotomist - how can I do this safely?

We have set aside the very first part of each day for vulnerable patients. If you are able to get to the practice using your own transport, this is much safer for you than having a healthcare professional come to your home. We will book your appointment first thing in the morning, and get you to wait in your car until we are ready to see you. If you do not have your own transport, please contact us to discuss what to do.

I want to discuss my future planning with someone - how do I do this?

We recognise that the current situation will cause many people to think about their plans for the end of their life. These may include resuscitation wishes, where they want to spend their last days, who they want involved in their care. If you would like to consider this with the support of a healthcare professional, please contact us to book a "future planning" telephone appointment.

My child is due to go back to school in June, but has an underlying health condition. How do I get medical advice on whether or not they should go back?

We understand that Government advice suggests that parents should ask for a medical opinion on this. This would create  an enormous amount of work for practices, and is not practical to accomplish when they are under so much pressure. This has been escalated to the LMC (Local Medical Council) and BMA (British Medical Association)). We await their decision. We will update this question when we get an answer.

I have an underlying health condition that means attending work could put me at risk. My employer wants a letter of support from the practice detailing this - how do I get this?

We are unable to provide specific advice as we are not an occupational health service, and we are currently not doing private work. There is guidance for employers and employees available at www.gov.uk 

Can I have an Antibody test?

We are now able to request antibody testing for patients who are already having a blood test for
another reason. These tests are currently being used for public health and statistical purposes only.
The result does not change how we manage patient’s care and has no impact on the social
distancing measures that anyone is required to take.  We are not currently able to offer testing for anyone who is not already having a blood test for another reason.

How do I arrange an Antibody test?

If you are having a blood test done for another reason, you can request that the test is added on to
the blood form that has been prepared for this. You need to do this prior to the blood sample being
taken from you to ensure we take the correct sample.

If you are housebound and the Community Care Team (District Nurses) are coming out to you, we
would need 24hours notice to be able to alter the blood form in time

How soon after having COVID symptoms can I have a test?

It takes several weeks for antibodies to develop following exposure to any infection so we would
recommend leaving about 3 weeks before being tested (you must continue to self-isolate if you are
still unwell as per the government guidance but it is common to have a lingering cough or fatigue
even when you feel better).

Can I have repeat Antibody testing?

This would currently only be offered if you developed a further illness that could be COVID-19 after
a previous negative antibody test AND you were having blood tests done for another reason.

What Do My Results Mean?

Antibodies are created by the body’s immune system when it is fighting off infection. The blood test
measures whether any antibodies have been created against the COVID-19 virus. It can take
several weeks after being exposed to the infection to be able to detect antibodies in your blood.

Positive result - Antibodies Detected:
This means your body has been infected with COVID-19 at some point previously. Usually having
antibodies to something will mean that if you are exposed to the infection again, your body would be
able to fight it off quickly, usually without you becoming unwell. Unfortunately we do not know yet
with COVID-19 whether any immunity will last or whether it could wear off in days, weeks or months.
For this reason, even if you have a positive antibody test, you must still adhere to the current
government guidance regarding social distancing and self-isolation.

Negative result - No Antibodies Detected:
This means there is no evidence that you have been exposed to COVID-19. It may mean that you
have never been infected with COVID-19. It could also mean that you have had an infection
previously but your antibodies have already dropped to undetectable levels (if this was the case, we
do not know what this means for future immunity).

We do not have capacity to offer any further discussions about your test results at this time, please do not ask for an appointment for this.

Why am I having difficulties contacting the practice by telephone?

Due to COVID-19 Practices have been advised to limit face to face appointments unless clinically necessary.  This is for both staff and patient safety. We have had to change our ways of working including GPs and nurses telephoning patients for reviews, and to discuss their condition.   We had asked patients help us by trying to keep the telephone lines free, if possible (so that GPs and nurses can contact you / other patients), and we have been using our eConsult service a lot more.  This service is a GP triage system and patients recieve a reply back by the end of the next working day.  The reply is sent by either eConsult (email service) or by telephone.  To use this system all you need is a smartphone, tablet or computer.  We do appreciate that not all patients may have access to a smartphone or internet, in which case please bear with us when trying to telephone the surgery.   

How do I get the latest information about the practice?

Facebook will be updated regularly with helpful information and on our website www.westendsurgery.co.uk.