Doctors reassure patients over GP surgery visits

Consultation with a doctor

Consultation with a doctor - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Face-to-face appointments are still available at Devon’s GP surgeries, but patients should contact practices by phone or online first

Doctors say people should only go to hospital A&E departments in an emergency.

Dr Simon Kerr, a GP at Coleridge Medical Centre in Ottery St Mary, said: “In most cases when a patient contacts their local practice, doctors will talk to them by phone, video or online in the first instance.

“This may be different from what people are used to, but often enables a faster response and is vitally important as a measure to help keep patients and practice staff safe.

“If your doctor needs to see you in person, they will do; face-to-face appointments are still happening across Devon where they are needed.

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“Many of our patients have really appreciated phone and online consultations, praising them for being more convenient and reducing the need to travel.”

All patients will be given clear advice on visiting for appointments, and will be told what measures are in place at the practice to keep them safe.

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If they need to be referred to the hospital for a review or treatment, the GP will arrange this.

It is very important that anyone given a GP or hospital appointment should attend.

However, consultants in Devon’s hospitals say waiting times at Accident and Emergency departments are on the up and are reminding people only to use A&E if they have been referred there by another part of the NHS or have a genuine emergency.

This could include the signs of stroke, severe chest pain, worsening asthma, serious bleeding or loss of consciousness.

Measures such as social distancing, designated areas for people with and without Covid-19 and more cleaning are in place at local hospitals to keep patients and staff safe, but in many cases they mean fewer people can be seen, adding to the pressure on local services.

Patients are being asked to think about whether they can treat themselves with over-the-counter remedies, visit a pharmacist, or use a minor injury unit or walk-in centre.

Advice is available from the website, the online service for coronavirus, or by calling the 111 phone line.

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