Coronavirus Information & Updates
The practice would like to share the information below in the hope that this helps to keep our patients informed and updated about our current response in the context of the global Covid pandemic. It is worth noting that there has to date been no change in the local and national guidance regarding social distancing measures, infection control precautions and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical providers in the context of the current relaxation of lockdown restrictions. Therefore, our operational approach remains the same as it has been throughout the pandemic so far and as a result our capacity remains greatly restricted. The practice remains open as it has done since the onset of the pandemic and we continue to respond to patient needs as best we can within the limitations of our premises and workforce. Like every other organisation, we are still facing staff shortages due to the need for symptomatic individuals to self-isolate until appropriate screening tests have been completed. The good news is that all staff who wished to be vaccinated have now been vaccinated and the majority of our team are performing twice weekly lateral flow testing as an additional precaution.
Suspected Covid Infection
All patients with possible symptoms of Covid-19 should seek advice by calling 111 or arrange for testing. The practice is not assessing patients with symptoms of Covid-19.
Our front door remains closed whilst it would be unsafe to allow uncontrolled movement of people into and around the building. This does not mean that we are unavailable or absent – it is simply an essential measure to keep staff and patients safe whilst accessing our services. Anyone presenting to the practice should ring the front door bell for assistance. Individuals attending for prearranged business will be admitted to the building only if there is sufficient space in the waiting areas to observe social distancing advice. Patients are asked to attend at their given appointment time to limit time spent in the building. Where possible, patients should attend alone but carers or family members are welcome where needed.
Infection control Measures
We ask that all visitors entering the building use the hand gel provided inside the front door. Face coverings are required unless patients are completely unable to tolerate use. Clinicians may ask patients if they are able to wear a mask, if able, for a short period of time during a consultation or examination when no distancing can be observed. Medical practice staff will clean all surfaces after use. Clinical staff continue to wear PPE (apron, gloves and mask with or without a visor) for every contact. All members of our team will wear face masks in communal areas or shared spaces.
As of Monday 26th April, the practice has changed the appointment booking system to allow pre-booked future appointments with a specific clinician. Our primary contact with patients remains remote with telephone or video consults the default position. After an initial assessment has been made, only those patients who need to attend for a face to face consultation will be invited into the practice at an agreed time. The experience of the past year has shown us that we can safely manage a large number of queries in full using remote consultations and that often this is more convenient for patients. We continue to assess requests for same day care to ensure that clinically urgent matters are prioritised. The practice clinical team comprises GPs, advanced nurse practitioners, a paramedic practitioner, GP trainees and nurse practitioner trainees. We are also working closely with our NHS Borders colleagues to support a wider team of allied health professionals. Appointments are available with members of the pharmacotherapy team for advice regarding medication. The practice can also offer appointments with a first contact physiotherapy practitioner for musculoskeletal problems. We would appreciate your support in reserving GP appointments for matters that cannot be dealt with by another member of our clinical team. Extended hours surgeries offering occasional appointments after 6pm for those who cannot attend in normal working hours have recommenced.
Coldingham Surgery and Dispensary
Coldingham surgery has maintained a dispensing service throughout the pandemic. We are currently experiencing staff shortages so please try to give us as much notice as possible of prescription requests. For the foreseeable future, the dispensary will continue to be open during the following times for collection of medication
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 2-5pm
Please call the dispensary on 018907 71291 if the above designated collection times are causing difficulty so that we can attempt to make alternative arrangements.
Care of Babies
Throughout the pandemic, the childhood immunisation programme has continued with minimal disruption. Where possible, we are now trying to schedule 6 week baby check appointments at the same time as a vaccination appointment to avoid multiple trips to the practice.
The flu vaccination programme in Scotland is currently suspended. Covid vaccinations are now the responsibility of NHS Borders. The practice is continuing to administer some pneumococcal vaccines to utilise the stock that we are currently holding but a national vaccine shortage may curtail this programme in due course. Shingles vaccinations are currently suspended.
(Please see our separate vaccination update)
Dr Robinson is now able to provide coils (insertion and removals) and Practice Nurse Bev Gower has also resumed the insertion and removal of Nexplanon (contraceptive implants). Please telephone the practice if you need advice regarding these services.
The practice is not able to offer this service at the current time.
Requests for a home visit should be made, where possible, before 11am. Home visits requested after this time, unless clinically urgent, will be scheduled for the following day if necessary. All home visit requests will be triaged by a member of our clinical team. This will allow us to consider whether a visit is necessary, obtain background information remotely and assess the risk of entering a patient’s home. Note that home visits are reserved for patients who are housebound and do not leave their homes for any other appointments. Palliative care in the community will remain a priority.
National screening programmes are restarting so we would encourage patients to participate and engage with these when invited. The practice is now able to provide a cervical smear service again so eligible ladies should contact reception to make an appointment.
To reduce attendance at the practice and unnecessary risk for our staff, the practice is currently dealing with all administrative matters by post or email. Fit Notes (“sick note”) will be posted to patients. The practice also wishes to avoid accepting payments by cash and would ask that these are made electronic whenever possible.
Within the restrictions of patient access in the building, we aim to continue and increase chronic disease reviews over the coming months. We are very aware that for many patients these have been significantly delayed as a result of the pandemic. Where possible and practical, reviews will be prioritised based upon length of delay and clinical need related to disease control. Patients will be contacted in turn as soon as we are able to accommodate a review. In line with other appointments, reviews may be conducted remotely by phone or video call at least in the first instance.
Blood tests to monitor medications and warfarin have continued throughout the pandemic so we will aim to make a gradual return back to normal intervals over the coming months.
The practice will continue to post information updates on the website to keep our patients informed. In response to feedback, we have now shortened the recorded message played as calls into the practice are answered. The practice team understand and sympathise with the frustration felt by patients in accessing health services at the current time but we ask that patients remain calm and considerate in all communications. The practice is interested to hear from patients about their experience using our service and is receptive to suggestions for improvement as long as these are shared in an appropriate and polite manner. We are all committed to providing the best possible service within the constraints and limitations of the wider organisation.
It is inevitable that the enormous disruption to NHS services over the past 14 months will result in patients experiencing lengthy delays for investigations and treatment. We understand that these will have a huge impact on our patients. Unless there has been a tangible change in symptoms since a referral, GPs are unable to increase the priority of a referral so please avoid calling the practice for this purpose. However, if you were referred to a specialist some time ago and you believe that there has been a significant deterioration in your condition since this was made then please get in touch to provide us with up to date information. Enquiries can be made directly with the Borders General Hospital so calls should be directed to the relevant department so they can assist.