NHS in Leeds reassures patients that GP practices are open

GP practices are at the frontline of the NHS, often people’s first port of call when they are unwell. This remains the case – Leeds GP practices are open and available for patients who need care or treatment.

Throughout the pandemic and subsequent vaccination programme, GP practices have been working hard to ensure patients, particularly those who are vulnerable, get the care they need.

Dr Jason Broch, GP and Clinical Chair for NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “‘We are fortunate to have good quality general practice in Leeds, with all our practices rated at least good by the Care Quality Commission.

“Since March 2020, the challenges faced by the NHS have been unprecedented, but GP practices across the city have worked hard to continue to care for their patients.

“Throughout the pandemic, all our practices have remained open and have been seeing patients face to face – we helped deliver the largest ever flu vaccination programme and have also made significant contributions to the Covid vaccination programme, vaccinating hundreds of thousands of Leeds residents.

“At the same time, practices have continued to provide routine and urgent medical care for patients, doing so in a safe way, in line with the government’s guidelines, whilst protecting staff from the virus through new ways of working. This has meant limits on the number of people we can safely have in a waiting room because of the need to maintain social distancing. This has involved telephone first and online systems, so when patients call the practice, they speak to a clinician who deals with the issue or arranges a face to face consultation if necessary.  In March alone, there were over 469,000 recorded consultations which is higher than pre-pandemic levels; over half of these, 281,000, were face to face appointments.

“As we come out of lockdown and start the road to recovery, practices will be inviting in increasing numbers of patients with long term or complex conditions to ensure they are receiving the best care for their needs. For all patients needing medical care, practices will continue to provide this in the most clinically appropriate way, through a combination of telephone, online and face to face appointments. By doing so, they can ensure even more patients get the care they need.

“Practices are currently busier than ever, and phone lines are exceptionally busy.  We understand that this can be frustrating but please be patient. Our staff are working very hard to deal with everyone.

“Please remember that some conditions can be managed by seeking advice online (www.nhs.uk) or by other healthcare professionals such as opticians, dentists and community pharmacists. Please also ensure you request repeat medications in good time.

“People who have concerns regarding ongoing conditions or any possible cancer symptoms such as a lump in your breast, changes in bowel habits, blood in your pee or poo, unexplained weight loss, moles that appear to change or cough that you’ve had for three weeks or more, please get in touch with your GP practice as soon as possible. We can assure you that you will be seen.

“We know the next few months will be difficult, but we will rise to the challenge. All we ask of people is to be kind to NHS staff; they’re doing everything they can to meet the needs of patients as safely as they can.”

Editors notes

One of our colleagues Dr Sarah Forbes, has recorded a video showing a typical working day for a GP https://youtu.be/dZQWc9RzHZM It gives a great insight into how most GPs are working now and how we continue to care for our patients.