Local doctors ask for your support as they work through their busiest period

General practice staff are asking for patience and support as they work through their busiest ever period.

Doctor’s surgeries across central Lancashire are open and staff are working harder than ever to make sure patients and the public are kept safe and they continue to get the care that they need.

Whilst legal restrictions such as social distancing and wearing a face covering ended in July in many places, they are still required in healthcare settings to keep patients, the most vulnerable and staff safe. This includes general practice, dental surgeries and hospitals. 

Dr Lindsey Dickinson, Chair and Clinical Leader, NHS Chorley and South Ribble Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

“Additional safety measures, like wearing face coverings and limiting the number of people in practices at a time are still in place for much of the NHS, this is to ensure that we can still provide effective services and keep our most vulnerable patients and staff protected.

“If your surgery feels that a face-to-face appointment is required, this will be arranged and patients will be seen by the most appropriate clinician, which has been the case right the way through the pandemic. There are also pre-bookable appointments at evenings and weekends for those who need them. Simply ask at your practice for details.

“Most common conditions can be assessed and diagnosed by the clinical team via telephone or video consultation.”

When trying to contact practices, it may take longer to get through on the phone than people are used to due to continued pressures. If it isn’t urgent, there are alternative options available, like online consultations. This is where an online form can be completed about a health concern and it can be accessed via a smartphone, tablet or computer.

Once the questions on the form have been answered, a text or email will be sent confirming the online consultation is complete, advice is given about what to do next. If the GP surgery needs to get in touch, they may suggest a phone or video consultation.

Before the pandemic, GP practices were already very busy. Now practices are dealing with more patients than ever before.

Key findings of the latest national GP patient survey that took place in March 2021 showed:

  • 88% in both Chorley and South Ribble and Greater Preston said they found receptionists helpful.
  • 68% in Chorley and South Ribble and 69% in Greater Preston had a good experience of making an appointment.
  • 62% in Chorley and South Ribble and 68% in Greater Preston said it was easy to get through to someone at their GP surgery on the phone.

Dr Sumantra Mukerji, Chair and Clinical Leader, NHS Greater Preston Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

“Many GP practices are seeing a rise in demand which is higher than we would expect to see at this time of year. We are working hard to treat patients as soon as we can and we ask for patience while we do that.

“Most practices are still using a telephone first system to help manage the rising number of contacts or asking patients to use their online service if possible, to ensure everyone gets the most appropriate support for their needs.

“As well as GPs and practice nurses, there are other health professionals like pharmacists, physiotherapists and social prescribers working to support our patients. Our receptionists’ role is to assign the right health professional for you, so they may need to ask some questions about your condition. They will treat your information in the same strict confidence that medical professionals do.

“This way of working is essential to helping us continue to provide our service, including seeing patients whose condition means they need to be seen by a GP.

“We’d like to thank all our patients for working with us throughout the pandemic and for still wearing face-coverings, following social distancing rules and for their continued kindness and support when using our services.”