NHS leaders in North Yorkshire and York are asking residents for their patience and kindness in the run-up to Christmas, with GP practices saying there is high demand for appointments.
NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Vale of York CCG say they are pleased people are not ignoring symptoms of ill health and are seeking medical help.
But the CCGs are asking patients to be aware that practices are currently exceptionally busy and are facing added workforce pressures created by COVID-related absences and routine winter sickness.
It means the wait to speak to a member of a surgery’s reception team in some areas may be a little longer than normal and some patients are letting their frustrations boil over.
NHS North Yorkshire CCG Clinical Chair, Dr Charles Parker, said: “We recognise how frustrating it can be to be a call queue, but surgery staff are doing their very best in challenging circumstances.
“GP practices have been asked to vaccinate the 50-64 year olds against the flu, to give the COVID-19 vaccine, to work in constrained ways to keep patients and staff safe, and to do this with higher numbers of staff off work, isolating or ill. This is a lot to cope with at the same time. They absolutely do not deserve to be shouted at and abused.
“Please do not ring your practice asking about COVID-19 vaccination. When vaccine is available for you, then the practice will contact you. This will help keep the phone lines clear and help practices cope with providing prompt care.
“On behalf of the CCGs, I really want to pay tribute to staff working in our GP practices – they’re unsung heroes doing an incredible job under the most intense pressure.”
Dr Nigel Wells, Clinical Chair at NHS Vale of York CCG added: “GP practices are working really hard to support patients and their families this winter. Practices are open, and primary care staff are ensuring as many patients as possible can be seen face-to-face whilst keeping staff and patients safe at all times. There is a very high demand on appointments at the present time.
“We are continuing to strongly encourage people with a health concern to contact their GP practice online, via the NHS App or by telephone for an appointment. They will then be triaged into either a telephone, video or face-to-face appointment depending on what is most suitable for them. There are also other good sources of health advice such as local chemists and NHS 111 who may be able to help with minor illnesses.
“We appreciate it must be frustrating for patients and ask for understanding and continued patience at this difficult time.”
It it’s a minor ailment local pharmacy teams can provide clinical advice for health conditions common over the winter period such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.
If it is not an emergency, patients can also get medical advice 24/7 by using the NHS 111 service online or over the phone; they have trained medical professionals available who can direct you to the most appropriate medical care.
Patients are also encouraged to download the NHS App, or visit the NHS website (www.nhs.uk) for further information and support.