Update on GP Services

Greater use of telephone and video consultations is to continue at GP practices throughout Forth Valley.  Some suspended services are also being gradually re-introduced in practices in line with national guidance, as part of the Scottish Government’s move into phase two of the route map out of lockdown.

The arrival of Covid-19 has led to a major shift in the way GP surgeries across the country operate and the use of telephone consultations is designed to significantly reduce footfall through practices to help keep both patients and staff safe from the virus.

Although not all GP practices are working in exactly the same way, anyone who has concerns about their health, particularly symptoms which are worrying them, should pick up the phone and call their local GP practice where staff are on hand to answer questions, offer advice and arrange for a health professional to call them back. All information is handled with complete confidentiality.

Some GP practices are asking patients to email pictures of an affected area which can be particularly useful when diagnosing rashes and other skin conditions. Most are carrying out urgent and pre-hospital blood tests and GP practices are now starting to see women whose cervical smear appointments were postponed and those who have to undergo regular monitoring. Some GP practices are now able to offer limited numbers of joint injections and long-acting reversible contraceptive fittings, where the benefit outweighs the risk.  However, a number of other services, including many routine chronic disease clinics and minor surgery, remain temporarily postponed.

Patients are also being asked to make use of other health services including the NHS Inform website (www.nhsinform.scot) which provides a wide range of health information and advice and the NHS Inform helpline which can be contacted free on 0800 22 44 88. Opticians and dentists are now open for emergency and urgent care and local pharmacists are also there to provide advice and treatment for a wide range of common health issues. Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should visit NHS Inform to book a test and access the latest guidance however if your symptoms have not improved after 7 days you should phone NHS 24 on 111.

NHS Forth Valley’s Deputy Medical Director for Primary Care, Dr Scott Williams, said: “It is important to reassure local people that we are still here for you although the way you access services at GP practices may be different from what you have been used to.  You are more likely to have a telephone or video consultation first and then you, the nurse or doctor can make a decision about whether you need to be seen face-to-face.  If this is the case then try not to worry as your safety is our top priority and GPs follow national guidance to make sure the Practices are as safe as possible.

“Investigations such as blood tests and X-rays are still being carried out and we are working closely with our colleagues in local hospitals so that if you need to see them then this can be arranged.  This may also be via telephone or video consultation rather than a face-to-face appointment, where appropriate.”