A COVID VACCINE BY CHRISTMAS????
Headlines last week spoke of “Covid vaccine by Xmas from GPs”. What does this mean for me?
Whilst we certainly would want to be involved in any vaccination campaign, we don’t have any information ourselves yet and contrary to media reports no ‘deals’ have yet been done, but we expect more information soon.
Will you be getting paid to vaccinate us?
GPs hold a contract with the NHS to provide certain services. The money from that contract pays for the building, the heating and electricity, the nurses, receptionists and staff, clinical equipment and a variety of other expenses that go with providing services to patients.
If the government wants GPs to do something new, (e.g. deliver a new vaccine) it will buy that service from the GP to pay for the extra staff, clinics and hours to cover expenses. It is very unlikely that GPs will make a profit out of the Covid vaccine. Based on current information they may make a loss, but recognise that it is the right thing to do for their patients and communities.
But what we don’t know, is what we might have to consider stop doing, to free up time to provide this vaccination service, given that we are working at 150% compared with this time last year, according to our LMC’s survey.
But isn’t it just like a flu jab?
No, not by a long stretch.
Flu jabs are delivered in their own little syringes, and kept refrigerated. They can safely last in a vaccine fridge for several months. We can keep them and use them, either in dedicated flu clinics or opportunistically if we see you for something else. We can run the clinics a bit like a conveyor belt, as I’m sure many of you will have experienced. We can get a large number of people vaccinated in a very short period of time. People then leave the practice immediately. Once a year, job done.
So what’s different about a new Covid vaccine compared with the flu jab?
These new vaccines are not yet ready, and we don’t know when they will be. They are completely different. They need to be stored frozen in special dry ice, colder than a home freezer (about -70°C). Surgeries don’t have those freezers. So they will be delivered whilst they are defrosting for use. However they can likely be stored in a vaccine fridge for a few days before expiring. They don’t come in their own little syringes. We will have to carefully draw them up from a main vial, dilute and mix them for each individual which will probably take from start to finish about 20 minutes, needing two members of staff (one to draw up, one to check - this is established safe practise with these preparations to minimise error). Once the patient has received their Covid-jab they must wait for 15 minutes to ensure no serious reaction -these vaccines are brand new, and whilst there is a huge regulatory framework to ensure their safety, we will have to take extra care. This in itself will be difficult as we have to maintain social distancing and we don’t know how quickly these clinics will take place. It will be nowhere near as quick as a flu clinic.
Will this be at my local GP surgery?
To begin with, NHS England thinks that areas will have one central Covid-jab centre. This might be in a local practice. It might be yours, it might not. You may have to travel. How the chosen centre will continue to look after its patients ongoing and urgent health needs, we don’t yet know. No details of those plans have been shared yet.
Is it just one jab?
No. You will need two. They will be 3-4 weeks apart but you must not have had any other vaccinations in the previous week.
How many patients will get it the vaccine when it’s ready?
Government says it wants 40 million people vaccinated (that’s 80 million appointments). Putting that into context, every year there are 40 million A&E attendances and 360 million GP appointments. This is going to take a long time. There are no spare GPs or practice nurses. We don’t yet know how we are going to plan for this on top of what we are doing now - managing hundreds of acute and chronic patients every day: on the phone, over video and being brought into the surgery by invitation.
Will it be available by Christmas?
No one knows. But if it is, there will be a very small number of doses and we think the Government might suggest protecting Care Home residents first.
Whatever you read in the paper or online, don’t forget - this is going to be very difficult. We need to make sure there is a safe system and a safe vaccine first.
Even when it comes, it won’t prevent Covid, it will only make its effects milder. So please bear with us - we are in the dark too.
And there is still every reason to think ‘Hands, Space, Safe’ for a long time to come.
FLU VACCINATION PLANS 2020
As you can imagine, the flu vaccination season this year is going to be very challenging with the addition of extra eligible age groups and the current coronavirus situation meaning social distancing measures need to be put in place. There are also delays in deliveries of some of the vaccinations.
The practice has had to think very carefully about the safest and most appropriate way to administer vaccines to these eligible groups whilst also prioritising those at greatest risk.
PLEASE DO NOT CALL THE PRACTICE REGARDING YOUR FLU VACCINATION. These calls are clogging our already very busy telephone system. Our receptionists are currently unable to book patients into flu clinics. PLEASE be assured that if you are eligible for a vaccine you will be contacted directly, via phone call, text and/or invitation letter in the coming weeks. We ask that you remain patient as with over 3,500 eligible patients this year this is a mammoth task!
With all this in mind, these are our current plans for the coming weeks, but note they may be subject to change depending on the progress of the coronavirus situation:
High Risk Patients OVER the age of 65 who had been shielding (approx 100 patients) have already started to be invited into to set clinics in the practice - we will telephone these patients directly over the next couple of weeks to book them into these clinics.
The remaining patients OVER 65 will be invited to 2 clinics at Queen Edith Chapel on Weds 14th & Wednesday 21st October. It will work differently to previous years as we need to ensure patients are staggered through the day so we will be splitting them up into time slots - likely by Surname. There will be a strict one way system and we will not be able to have information stalls or refreshments. NO OTHER AGE GROUPS WILL BE INVITED TO THESE CLINICS. Strictly by invitation only, no drop-in. Invitation letters will be sent out to patients in the next couple of weeks but please be aware they may only arrive a day or two before the clinics.
We will not be receiving any vaccines for UNDER 65s until the second week of October.
A Saturday Morning Clinic for Highest-Risk patients and other PRIORITY groups UNDER 65 (Carers, pregnant women etc) is provisionally planned for 17th October. Again, details to follow and strictly by invitation only, not drop in. This date may be subject to change.
All other patients UNDER 65 who are eligible for a CLINICAL reason will be invited into set clinics at the practice through November, as and when vaccines are available.
Eligible children (2-3year olds) and those with a CLINICAL risk will be invited into clinics in surgery - no dates yet set for these but likely end October/early November.
Patients aged 50-64years old without a clinical risk will not become eligible until AT LEAST Nov or Dec and will only be vaccinated if vaccines are available as per guidance from NHSE.
We are still awaiting further guidance re vaccinating family members of those who were shielding.
We understand this is a lot of information to take in, but this is going to be a very complicated year! The practice very much appreciates your patience during these challenging times.
DoctorLink is an online triage and advice tool which helps the patient see the right member of the practice team in the appropriate timeframe based on clinical need.
With DoctorLink you can check your symptoms, book appointments, request fit/sick certificates & request repeat prescriptions. Sign-up is simple, just click the link below to create your account, or download the DoctorLink app (IOS & Android):
Important information about the coronavirus (COVID-19)
The NHS in England and Public Health England (PHE) are well prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases. The NHS has put in place measures to protect patients, our community and NHS staff while ensuring as many services as possible are available to the public.
If you have symptoms associated with coronavirus including a new continuous cough and/or a high temperature and/or anosmia (a loss of or change in your normal sense of smell or taste), you are advised to stay at home for 7 days.
Please do not book a GP appointment or attend your GP practice.
If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home. After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine.
But, if anyone in your home gets symptoms, they should stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms start. Even if it means they're at home for longer than 14 days. The most up-to-date public guidance is always online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
If your symptoms are serious, or get worse, NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need further medical help and advise you what to do.
Only call 111 direct if you are advised to do so by the online service or you cannot go online.
For the latest COVID-19 advice please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus
Like the common cold, coronavirus infection usually occurs through close contact with a person with novel coronavirus via cough and sneezes or hand contact.
A person can also catch the virus by touching contaminated surfaces if they do not wash their hands.
Testing of suspected coronavirus cases is carried out in line with strict guidelines.
This means that suspected cases are kept in isolation, away from public areas of GP surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals and returned home also in isolation. Any equipment that come into contact with suspected cases are thoroughly cleaned as appropriate. Specific guidance has also been shared with NHS staff to help safeguard them and others. Patients can be reassured that their safety is a top priority, and are encouraged to attend all appointments as usual.
Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:
• Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
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You can also book, cancel and track appointments at your GP surgery with ease.* And access to NHS 111 online means no more wondering if you need urgent attention.
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Your NHS, your way. Download the NHS App.
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About our practice
Our Doctors are committed to providing high quality NHS medical care for individuals and families in a friendly and caring environment.
You may choose to see any of the doctors, but we believe we can provide the best care if you keep to the same one. We work closely together as a team and are confident that you will receive equally caring attention from any of us when your usual doctor is not available. All doctors provide a full range of medical services, including maternity medical services, minor surgery, contraceptive services and child health surveillance.
We strongly support the NHS policy on zero tolerance. Anyone attending the surgery who abuses the GPs, staff or other patients be it verbally, physically or in any threatening manner whatsoever, will risk removal from the practice list. In extreme cases we may summon the police to remove offenders from the practice premises.
Please see the link to the latest edition o the quarterly newsletter produced by our Patient Participation Group (PPG) below. Head to the page entitled 'Patient Participation Group to see previous editions!
Newsletter 22 - June 2020.pdf
More evening and weekend GP appointments available
All our patients now have access to more pre-bookable evening and weekend GP and nurse appointments.
To book an appointment, contact our reception team who will be able to book an appointment for you, or direct you to where you can do this online.
Appointments may not be at this practice, but if you talk to our receptionists, they will help you find the right service and at a time that is convenient.
Click on the link below to log in to SystmOnline.
PLEASE NOTE: You will need a username and password to access the online service. For more information about how to do this visit our 'Online Access to your medical Records' page: