As you can imagine it has been a tumultuous few months for Deddington Health Centre during lockdown and the gradual easing of restrictions. We would like to share with you what we have been working to put in place to ensure we can continue to care for our patients safely during this difficult time.
One of the main concerns patients have when visiting the surgery is whether they will come into contact with other patients who may have COVID-19. From the initial lockdown we moved to having a telephone or email consultation with patients before deciding whether they need to be seen face to face. This allowed us to screen patients with potentially infective symptoms and make special arrangements for them to be seen separately with appropriate precautions. Initially for our “amber zone” we shut the main waiting room and used one room in this area to see potentially infected patients or, on fine days, saw them in the car park. With the winter approaching and more patients coming into the surgery we have decided to use a portacabin, which we have leased and put in the car park so that we can see amber zone patients there without them coming into contact with any other patients or the communal areas of the surgery. By carefully screening patients we can separate amber zone patients from the rest of the patients safely and this has allowed us to reopen the main waiting area.
You may also have noticed that when you are seen in the surgery that the clinical staff are wearing personal protective equipment when in close contact with patients. We have stopped doing high risk aerosol generating procedures such as spirometry (lung function testing). Behind the scenes we are wiping down surfaces in our rooms in between each patient and there are special cleaning procedures for the amber zone once we have seen patients there.
We have made particular efforts to carry on with essential services, particularly those related to cancer screening. We have continued to do cervical smears during the pandemic months and continue to call patients in to have this important test. The cancer referral pathways (sometimes called Two Week Wait pathways) have continued to operate and the hospitals have been seeing patients with symptoms that might suggest cancer throughout the lockdown. We don’t want patients who are worried about symptoms that might indicate cancer to delay coming forward and we would encourage you to contact us if you are concerned.
For those patients with chronic diseases we are prioritising those who are at greatest risk of COVID-19, those with poor control of their condition and those who missed their review in 2019. For those patients who are well controlled and whose review can be safely deferred, we are doing this where we can. We have also extended our flu clinics so that we can immunise patients whilst observing social distancing for the patients being vaccinated. More patients than ever will need a flu jab this year so please be patient, we are doing as many as we can!
In summary we have put as many precautions is place as we can to make your visit to the surgery as safe as possible. Please ring us first or use the online consultation module on our website and only come to the surgery by prior arrangement so that we can continue to keep you safe.