It has certainly been a very difficult 9 months for us all and the second lockdown is worrying. We want to thank you all for working with us during this very challenging time. We appreciate that the way we deliver care and how you may access health care has changed
We are still operating in zoned areas, as directed by NHS England:
- Red zone – Biggleswade and some areas of Shannon Crt : for Suspected and confirmed COVID cases, and acutely unwell patients who need face to face appointments.
- Amber and Green sites Langford and Shannon Crt: for planned care for example smears, baby immunisations, blood tests etc
We were fortunate that we had three premises and could implement the above to shield you as much as possible from exposure to COVID. . This has meant that you may have had to travel a bit further for appointments and we appreciate this effort. As a result this has meant that we could continue to offer these services when other Practices could not. Thank you for adapting and working with us with this required change.
We are pleased with our recent survey, which showed that an overwhelming number of our patients, over 86%, would like to continue to use telephone and video consultations, where clinically appropriate, going forward. We like it too but we do miss seeing all our patients in the flesh!
We are still required to operate a total triage model, this means that ALL appointment requests are telephone triaged in the first instance. This is to comply with the NHS England regulations. We are following this to keep you safe and to ensure our services continue to deliver care. It is therefore important that you disclose any of the following symptoms when requesting or prior to attending for a face to face appointment (continuous cough, high temperature or loss of taste or smell).
We want to reassure you that we continue to be OPEN, despite the restriction of access into the building. Restriction of the footfall into the building is necessary to protect patients and the surgery team from potential exposure to COVID19. This safeguards our services from closure, as without staff the services will not be able to continue. We have continued to see patients when it was clinically needed.
Patients who are attending for face to face appointments: please can you follow the instructions displayed on entering the building and please do not arrive early for your appointment. We have planned the waiting areas to restrict the number of patients and maintain social distancing. We do not want to keep you waiting outside in bad weather because we have too many people in the waiting room.
Please note that due to the time taken in having to deep clean the rooms between patients and change PPE, we are not able to offer as many appointments as we would like. We have converted kitchen space, storage rooms and break rooms into telephone triage rooms so that we can offer as many appointments as possible. We have also deployed teams to work from home where they can. In addition we have centralised teams so that we can work more effectively. This includes centralising the phone line to one number 01767 316346.
It is with regret and sadness that the message needs to be said, however, as employers we have an obligation to protect our employees. Whilst most patients have been supportive and made our very difficult days worthwhile, we are seeing an increasing level of general frustration and aggression in patients and this is being directed at all team members. This is not acceptable. We have noticed that there is a perception, especially in the media, that GPs are hiding behind closed doors. We want to reassure you that this is not the case and our teams are working very hard for you, although delivering care in a different way from what you are accustomed to.
For example of last month workload
- Answering over 12,000 calls per month
- Processing over 3,500 queries
- Responding to patients requests by making over 1,500 calls
- Issuing over 4,000 prescriptions
- Dispensing to over 1,600 patients
- Carrying out over 650 hours of face to face appointments
- Doctors and nurse spending over 500 hours speaking to patients on the phone.
- Doctors and nurses carrying out additional appointments via videos
- Throughout COVID we have seen an increase in 75% in admin workload for our whole team
- Additional work being passed to us from hospitals
Please be assured that we are here for you and we will do what we can for you within the regulatory framework that has been given to us.
If you have booked a telephone triage appointment, please answer the call when we ring. We do not have capacity to keep trying to call you.
If you can, use the NHS website to check for symptoms before contacting us and follow the guidance given, including self-care.
If directed to another service, for example a pharmacy, please follow that guidance.
Use our website to self-refer to specialists where possible. Please visit our Wellbeing Centre.
Letters for Shielding, Exemption of Face Masks or Letters to Support Working From Home
Please do not contact us for letters for shielding, exemption of face masks or letters to support working from home. We are strictly following the government guidance and will not be supporting exemptions from this guidance.
Track Your Own Referral
Track you own referral using the using our online Referrals Triage. You will need the paperwork which will have been issued.
Sick Note/ Med 3
If you need a sick note or med 3 please use our online Sick Note Triage.
The phone lines are very busy. If you can use the website, please do so. We ask that you await a response from that enquiry and not phone to chase as this doubles the workload.
Blood or Radiology Results
Please do not phone wanting to know your results. We will be in contact with you, if the results need following up, once the results have been received.
If a hospital Consultant has asked you to have bloods for your next appointment and has provide you with a request card for this, please go to the hospital to have it done. We do not have the capacity to offer this service at present and need to reserve our blood appointments for our Doctors and nurse to use to ensure we delivery our care safely to you .
To book an appointment, either:
- Call 01767 316346 and our Care Navigation Team will help you
- Online consultations
- Booking online using your online account
Collection of Items
Our collection times are changing. We are bringing this in due to the dark nights and preparing for inclement weather.
To save you time, please bring Id with you as you will be wearing a mask and it makes it difficult for us to recognise you and our new team members may not know you.
- 8.30-9.30am, Monday to Friday
- 1-2pm, Monday to Friday
- 12-1 pm, Monday to Friday
- 5pm-6pm, Monday to Friday
Please order your medication using the website in the medication room or using your online account. Under 16s can order from the website too
To minimise the spread of infection we are moving away from paper for requesting medication. Please register for online services as soon as possible. It is easy to set up and use, please call the surgery to organise.
Or, you can register for the NHS app from the app store on your mobile phone.
We appreciate technology is not available to all our patients so for a small number of patients we will continue to accept a written request .
The electronic prescription service has been updated. Therefore if you do not have a nominated pharmacy, you will no longer receive a prescription but will be given a paper token to go to your chosen pharmacy. The pharmacy can use this token to locate your prescription.
If you wish to nominate a regular pharmacy, when collecting your medication from the pharmacy please let them know. Your records at the Practice will be updated accordingly.
The revised shielding letters are being sent by NHS England and you will receive these directly. Please do not call the surgery requesting a letter to work from home. Your employers are advised to follow the government guidance and you will be directed to this if you call.
For Patients who are currently classed as ‘extremely vulnerable’ or ‘Shielded’ the updated guidance can be found on the Advice for People at High Risk From Coronavirus (shielding) page on the NHS website.
If you require a medication review, please can you go to the website and use our online Ask the Practice a question form please.
We are still carrying out home visits for our housebound patients. It may one of our team or a deputising service who visits.
Please note that Shielded patients are still able, according to the guidance, to attend healthcare appointments.
We are still carrying out virtual ward rounds with our care home residents to ensure they feel supported. Every patient is reviewed weekly.
Social Distancing and Infection control
We have a duty of care to all our patients and our teams members. If you have a booked appointment please:
- Come alone to your appointment, if possible
- Please maintain your social distance from other patients.
- Arrive just before your appointment time as you will not be permitted into the building until your clinician is free to see you.
- You will be asked to wear a face mask. Please bring this to your appointment and follow the instructions before entering the building.
- Reception will be closed, please phone the surgery if you need help.
- Please use the hand sanitizer on entering and leaving the building.
- Please minimise your time in the surgery. Toilet facilities are restricted
Technology to Make it Easier for You
If you do not have an online account please register. There are lots of services available to you online and you can book a telephone triage slot on the day.
- Ask help from a Doctor
- Order medication for under 16s
- Ask the practice a question
- Track your own referral without needing to call the surgery
- Self refer to a number of specialists without the need of involving the GP
We are in the process of finishing our clinics for those at risk and over 65, using the last of our Vaccine stock.
We are awaiting on further stock of vaccine for the 50-64 , not at risk patients.. Once we receive this will be sending our invites to our patients.
On a lighter note
Our Biggleswade Landlord, NHS property services, are currently decorating the Biggleswade site. First time in 20 years!
We have recruited a very experience Pharmacist, Sue and she will be working alongside our GPs and Nursing teams.
We have also recruited 8 new care navigators, also known as receptionists, an additional medical secretary and two bank staff to assist with COVID cover.
Thank you for reading this in full and please do contact us if you need us. We are here for you.
Saffron Health Team