Harrogate community centre to be temporarily repurposed to help local NHS Covid effort

A community centre in Harrogate is set to be temporarily repurposed so patients with Covid-19, or symptoms of the virus, have the opportunity so see a GP face-to-face.

Until now, patients with Covid in the Harrogate district who urgently needed a face-to-face doctor’s appointment would attend their own surgery.

And while there are strict social distancing, PPE and infection, prevention and control measures in place in all GP surgeries, doctors say it’s more practical if Covid-positive patients, or those displaying symptoms, can be seen at a dedicated site elsewhere.

Now, NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Yorkshire Health Network – the federation covering the 17 GP surgeries in the Harrogate and rural district – have secured the use of the Jennyfield Styan Community Centre in Grantley Drive from Harrogate Borough Council until January next year.

Ordinarily, the centre is home to support groups, youth clubs, and a host of activities ranging from tai chi and tea dances to carpet bowls and yoga – but these activities have been stood down due to Covid-19 restrictions and the current national lockdown.

Locum GPs and part-time doctors are due to begin seeing patients at the centre from next week with consultation slots for patients referred on by their own GP practice where a face-to-face appointment is deemed essential, scheduled between noon and 6pm, Mondays to Fridays.

Mark Beesley, Chief Operating Officer for the Yorkshire Health Network, said: “Our GP practices have wanted an additional facility for some time, but with activity levels in our surgeries now back to what they were before the pandemic, it’s become even more pressing.

“Finding an appropriate location has been a challenge – none of the practices in our network are large enough to be configured in such a way so they can be adequately segregated for Covid patients and the numbers of non-Covid patients we’re now seeing.

“The Jennyfield Styan Community Centre is ideal. It’s a self-contained, wheelchair friendly building, centrally located, with good parking and there is sufficient area for two consultation spaces which means GPs can alternate between the two – seeing patients in one, while the other is properly deep-cleaned and sanitised ready for the next appointment.”

NHS North Yorkshire CCG Clinical Chair, Dr Charles Parker, said: “On behalf of the CCG and Yorkshire Health Network, I want to extend our gratitude to Harrogate Borough Council which once has again has stepped forward to help the NHS and local health services in our time of greatest need.

“This additional capacity will be of enormous benefit to practices throughout the Harrogate district and will help ensure doctors’ surgeries can continue to meet the demands of a busy winter period.”

Councillor Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said: “It goes without saying, we are very proud to support the NHS and the response to Covid-19.

“Jennyfield Styan Community Centre plays a vital part of the community for so many, and now more than ever. I hope the NHS can make use of the facility and provide much needed GP appointments for those that so desperately need them.”

As part of the processes that have been put in place to reduce the risk of Covid transmission, the length of appointment slots has been expanded to take into consideration the donning and doffing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that GPs will need to wear.

Patients who have been allocated an appointment at the community centre will be asked to wait in their vehicle on arrival, wear a suitable face-covering and keep hands sanitised. They will be escorted in and out of the building before and after their appointment to ensure there is no waiting in communal areas or crossover with other patients.

If a patient requires medication, an electronic prescription will be generated and sent directly to the patient’s usual pharmacy.