Coronavirus Updates

We are here to help as your first point of contact for suspected Coronavirus
If you or your child is unwell please contact us as usual. Do not delay seeking advice if you need it but please do not come into the practice without contacting us first.
Coronavirus – Emerging from lockdown

As the lockdown eases we are in the process of gradually re-establishing routine services ensuring that we can do this safely. Although the risk of infection has reduced we will need to maintain social distancing within the building at all times. Your safety is the upmost priority to us.

  • We will be returning to our normal longer opening hours from 15th June. Kingston Health Centre will be open 7am to 8pm. This gives us the opportunity to spread patient care over a longer working day and reduce the number of patients in the building at the same time.
  • Consultations will continue to be by video or phone in order to reduce patient footfall into the building. The GP will invite you to attend for a face to face examination if this is needed.
  • Patients who are unwell with possible symptoms of coronavirus and need face to face assessment will be seen in a separate area of the building away from the main consulting rooms
  • We have new clear screens in front of reception areas and distinctive floor markers to facilitate social distancing.
  • At peak times we will have a care navigator at the entrance to assist patients. Their role is direct you to the right part of the building for your booked appointment and ensure social distancing is maintained especially in busy areas such as the lift lobby.
  • Nurses, doctors and health care assistants will continue to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) for face to face patient contacts.
  • Cervical screening has now re-started. Please book with reception by phone if you are due.
  • Extended Hours Clinics will resume from 15th June in the evenings and weekend.
  • Physiotherapy appointments will be restarting soon- date pending.
  • Minor surgery and coil and implant services will be resuming soon- date pending.
  • We continue to provide routine child immunisations.

 

When will I be able to book a face to face GP appointment?

This is the most frequently asked question by patients and one for which there is no simple answer. Truthfully, we do not anticipate a change in the foreseeable future.

On a typical Monday morning at Kingston Health Centre there are over 100 GP appointments. Most of these used to be for face to face consultations. This changed dramatically with Coronavirus and the majority are now by video or phone.  Those coming in person to the practice these days have already been assessed by phone or video earlier by the GP and usually need to be examined.  We also have patients coming in for necessary blood tests and nursing procedures.

If you do need to be seen in person the GP can advise and make arrangements. Please be assured that we will offer you a face to face appointment if this would be helpful.

We are in a situation where there can be no return to the crowded GP waiting room of the past. We must continue to have a low footfall within the practice and strict social distancing measures to keep you (and our staff) safe.  This is especially important now that more routine services are being re-introduced that require face to face interaction.

If you have not tried video consulting, we would encourage you to give it a try. During the pandemic we have learnt a lot about remote consulting and discovered how much can be successfully achieved this way. Our reception team can support you to get set up if you need help.

 

What services are running as normal?

GP and nurse appointments

  • Prescription services
  • Maternity care – patients will need to book a telephone or video appointment first and after this will be invited down for a check-up.
  • Blood tests- for urgent medical problems and to monitor specific medications such as warfarin or methotrexate
  • Cervical screening – for women who are on 6 or 12 month recall.
Why are these changes necessary?

We are adapting our services to the changes brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic. Staff numbers are reduced because some are ill or needing to self-isolate. We are also actively engaged in supporting the wider healthcare community in Kingston. Doctors have been redeployed to Kingston Hospital and others are working collectively with GPs across Kingston to offer services at the weekend. We are currently involved in setting up and staffing ‘hot sites’ at Surbiton Health Centre and Kingston University Health Centre where we will be able to provide care for patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 infection. This will help us to make sure that GP practices across Kingston remain safe for those without Covid-19 who need care.

How do I access care?

Monday to Friday 8am -6.30pm

  • Phone or online to book a telephone or video appointment. After your consultation you will be directed to a ‘hot ‘ site should you have symptoms of Covid-19 infection and need a face to face review.
  • For any administrative questions please email the surgery KHCadmin@nhs.net

Weekend and Bank holidays 8am – 8pm

  • Phone 020 3841 9942- for telephone or video assessment
  • You will be directed to separate ‘cold’ or ‘hot’ clinics should a face to face review be needed

Thank you for your understanding during this pandemic. We know these are stressful times and are here to support and care for you should the need arise.
We very much look forward to resuming return to our normal working hours and services as soon as possible.

What are we doing to reduce the risk of infection to our patients?

Pre-screening of all patients before they attend the practice –

  • Patients with any respiratory symptoms (even if not classic Coronavirus symptom) will be assessed by phone or video by a doctor.
  • Symptomatic patients who  need to be seen for face to face assessment will have their own separate waiting area and consultation room
  • Clinicians will be wearing PPE ( personal protective equipment)

Enhanced infection control measures

  • Regular cleaning / disinfection  cycles in high risk areas
  • Removal of magazines and toys from waiting area
  • Widespread use of hand sanitizers

Reducing patient footfall in the building

  • Reducing the need to collect prescriptions ( sending electronically to the pharmacy) , letters and medical certificates ( email instead)
  • Increased use of video and phone for routine consultations
How can you help us at this time?

Practice staff will be working under increased pressure during the Coronavirus epidemic.

  • For queries contact us by email KHCadmin@nhs.net rather than phone
  • Do not request a medical certificate to cover time off work due to self- isolation. The Government have been clear to employers about this issue. If you must have a certificate contact  NHS 111
  • Do not ask us to complete holiday insurance  cancellation forms where you have decided not to travel due to Coronavirus.
  • Keep up to date with latest Government advice – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Thank you for your patience and understanding at this time. Processes are likely to evolve further over the next few weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions on Coronavirus ( Covid-19)

At Kingston Health Centre we are dedicated to providing the best healthcare to you and your family. We are currently in a situation of national crisis with unprecedented demand on the NHS. We are having to make changes to our services, sometimes at short notice to enable us to provide care to large numbers of unwell patients in addition to the usual work done in general practice. We would ask that you remain aware of the very high level of demand on our services and contact us only if necessary. Hopefully this FAQ will be able to provide answers to queries you may have.

I think I have coronavirus, what do I do?

If you a have new continuous cough, or a fever over 37.8C, then the advice is that you should self-isolate for 7 days. You do not need to contact NHS 111 or the GP practice. If you develop worsening symptoms, especially significant breathing problems, or you are unable to get out of bed, then please contact us or NHS 111. We can arrange a video assessment and, if necessary, for you to be assessed in our Coronavirus ‘hot site’.

If you live with anyone they will need to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they don’t have any symptoms.
Check NHS-111 for information about self-isolating https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/


I only have mild symptoms, do I still need to self-isolate?

It is very important to follow the advice to self-isolate. Some people with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) have minimal symptoms but are at risk of spreading it to others who may become very unwell. It is essential that everyone is mindful of the need to reduce the risk of infecting others.

Can I be tested for Coronavirus at my GP surgery?

There is no Coronavirus testing at the GP or in the community. Currently testing is only carried out if you are unwell enough to need admission into hospital.

Why can’t I book a face to face appointment with the GP?

GP surgeries have been advised to conduct all appointments by video or telephone initially. This is to protect patients and staff alike from risk of infection. Reducing footfall of patients within the building is vital to reduce disease transmission and is part of the government strategy.  After your video or telephone appointment the doctor decides you need to be examined, this will be discussed with you and arrangements made.

Why is the receptionist asking me the reason I want to speak with the GP?

At this exceptionally busy time the GPs are needed to provide care to the sickest patients and are not going be as available as usual for routine matters. Many patients are used to requesting to speak with the GP even when other members of the team can deal with their query. Our receptionists are there to ensure our systems run efficiently and that patients are getting the right advice from the right person. Please consider email KHCadmin@nhs.net instead of phoning.

Are GP services running as usual?

Some of the extra services we offer at Kingston Health Centre will be unavailable at this time. These include the women’s clinic for coil and implant fittings, the Health Visitor baby drop-in service, and minor surgery clinics. There will also be a reduced phlebotomy service, catering only for urgent blood tests. This is to ensure the safety of our patients and staff, and to allow the practice to cope with the increased pressure the Coronavirus pandemic has placed on the NHS.

Can I still discuss other medical problems with my GP?

Our GPs will be more than happy to discuss medical problems unrelated to Coronavirus with you via video or telephone; however some investigations or referrals may not be currently available or may take longer than usual. This is because hospitals have suspended many routine outpatient services and non-urgent surgery during the pandemic.

Should I order extra supplies of my repeat medication?

Please resist the temptation to order extra supplies. There has been a surge in medication requests recently and this can lead to shortages nationwide. We have been informed that the supply chain for medicines is secure and there is no need to have extra stock at home.  We will continue to issue your usual quantity unless there are exceptional circumstances.

I have a pre-existing medical problem, should I be self-isolating?

Patients who are deemed extremely vulnerable should have already been contacted with shielding advice and information. If you feel that you are extremely vulnerable and haven’t been contacted please email us.

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

Is it safe to take ibuprofen if I think I have coronavirus?

Some reports in the media that have suggested ibuprofen is not safe to take if you suspect you have Coronavirus. The commission for Human Medicines expert working group has now clarified that there is insufficient evidence to establish a link between ibuprofen or other NSAIDs. It would be preferable to treat symptoms first but ibuprofen can be used if needed.

Do I need to stop my blood pressure medications?

There have been reports that some blood pressure medications are unsafe to take if you suspect you have Coronavirus. There is no clear evidence base for this currently and the advice is to continue to take your medications as prescribed. We will keep you updated should the advice change. Should you become unwell with high fever and are at risk of becoming dehydrated we would recommend temporarily stopping your blood pressure medication to protect your kidney function.

I don’t have asthma, but will an inhaler help?

Inhalers do not help if you don’t suffer from asthma or COPD. If you don’t usually use an inhaler, even if you’ve had one in the past, please do not request a prescription. It is important that inhalers remain available for those that need them most.

Can I still breastfeed if I’m feeling unwell?

There is no current evidence that breastfeeding your baby poses a risk of transmitting Coronavirus. The virus is not thought to be present in milk. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any risks and it is safe to continue.

Can you provide me with a letter for my employer?

We are not able to provide letters for employers to confirm symptoms or the need to self-isolate. The NHS is facing unprecedented pressure at the moment and employers need to understand that such requests are not currently realistic. Government have been clear in their advice about this to employers. Instead you can print off an Isolation note from NHS-111 https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/

I’ve had to cancel my holiday, can I have a letter for my insurance company?

Some insurance providers are continuing to request a letter from your GP to corroborate claims for holiday or travel cancellation. Due to high demands on our service, we regret that we are unable to provide letters or complete a cancellation form at this time.

I have heard that extremely vulnerable people should undertake shielding. What is it and who should consider it?

Shielding is a measure to protect the most vulnerable people in the community by minimising the interaction between them and others. It means that they should remain within their homes and minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household. This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus If you have received a letter from NHS England or you have a condition that makes you extremely vulnerable then you need to

  • Strictly avoid contact with anyone with symptoms of coronavirus – fever and or new and continuous cough
  • Do not leave your home
  • Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends or family.
  • Do not go out for leisure, shopping or travel. When arranging food and medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.
  • Keep in touch by phone or internet

These restrictions are difficult – try to identify ways of staying in touch with others without face to face contact. This advice will be in place for at least 12 weeks from the day you receive the letter.

Extremely vulnerable patients include

  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • People with specific cancers – those who are undergoing active chemotherapy, radical radiotherapy for lung cancer, cancers of the blood such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma at any stage of treatment, people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer, targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors, people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants within the past 6 months or who as still taking immunosuppressant drugs
  • People with severe respiratory conditions- all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma, severe COPD
  • People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infection such as sickle cell disease or SCID
  • People on immunosuppression therapies likely to significantly increase the risk of infection
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

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