GP practices in North Yorkshire and York will be keeping COVID-secure arrangements in place when restrictions elsewhere are eased on Monday (19 July).
All staff and patients are being asked to continue to wear a suitable face covering and comply with social distancing and hand hygiene guidance as before.
Practices will continue to offer a blended mix of face-to-face, telephone and virtual appointments – with face-to-face appointments prioritised for those who need to be seen in person.
NHS England announced yesterday (Thursday) that patients would be expected to wear a suitable face covering and observe social distancing rules when accessing all healthcare settings – including dentists and pharmacies – with hospital trusts in the region also confirming there would be no changes to their COVID-secure arrangements.
Dr Bruce Willoughby, NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body Member, said: “GP practices have been seeing patients face-to-face in a COVID-safe way throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“By their very nature, these are people who are poorly, or have a long-term medical condition which may make them more vulnerable to COVID.
“With the rate of coronavirus infections increasingly sharply across North Yorkshire and York in recent weeks, we hope we can offer a level of reassurance to our patients that when we need to see them in person, we won’t be exposing them to unnecessary risk.
“We would also like to remind patients that they should not visit healthcare settings if they are displaying COVID symptoms – in these instances, patients should self-isolate and arrange a PCR test at a testing centre through www.nhs.uk or NHS 119.”
Dr Sally Tyrer, Chair of the North Yorkshire and York branch of YorLMC, added: “GP practices are under extraordinary pressure at the moment.
“Demand for appointments is exceptionally high and at the same time we are beginning to see more staff absences because they are unwell or have been asked to isolate because they’re deemed to have had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID.
“The measures in place to keep patients safe will also help protect staff and ensure we can continue to care for people when they need us.”
Dr Nigel Wells, NHS Vale of York CCG Clinical Chair, said: “Lockdown restrictions may be being lifted, but the pandemic is not over.
“Infection control and staff and patient safety are paramount, especially at a time when coronavirus infections are increasing so quickly in the local area.”
Patients visiting their GP surgery and other healthcare settings are being asked to:
- Wear a face covering at all times (unless you are medically exempt) and adhere to social distancing guidelines
- Wash or sanitise your hands before entering the building and use the hand sanitiser provided where it’s available
- Not visit if you have COVID-19 symptoms, have been instructed to self-isolate or have received a positive COVID-19 test