AS the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to affect our daily lives, people in West Lancashire are being reminded that although GP practices may be working a little differently at the moment, they are still there for those who need them.
Since March, people have quickly adapted to using phone and video in all aspects of their lives – for shopping, pre-booking time slots to access various services and venues – and GP services have been no different.
Dr Peter Gregory, a local GP and chair at NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “GPs and practice staff across West Lancashire have been amazing in their response to the pandemic – drastically increasing the number of telephone and video consultations to ensure patients could still access services during the pandemic.
“I cannot thank them enough for their dedication to supporting residents throughout this challenging and very busy time. I’d also like to thank West Lancashire residents for their ongoing patience and support of their local GPs and practice staff.”
Dr Rakesh Jaidka, a local GP and clinical director for the Skelmersdale Primary Care Network (PCN), said: “We know that it is a worrying time, but we would like to reassure you that your GP is there for you should you need them. If you are unwell or have a concern about your physical or mental health then please contact your surgery by calling them, going to their website on using the NHS App.”
“Where possible, your GP will talk to you over the phone or online to find out more and discuss the next steps. If you are asked to come in for an appointment, please don’t delay getting the care or treatment you need and attend your appointment straight away. Coronavirus safety measures are in place to ensure that we can continue to see patients face-to-face when necessary.”
With the COVID-19 vaccine now in the process of being rolled out nationwide, residents are reminded we all must still continue to be vigilant and that if they or a loved one does display any COVID-19 symptoms such as a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – you must self-isolate at home and get a test as soon as possible. Get a test online or call 119.
Dr Gregory continues: “The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech has met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness and therefore been approved for use in the UK. Other vaccines are being developed and will be thoroughly tested and approved before we start to use them.
“At first, the vaccine will be offered to people who are most at risk from COVID-19, before being offered more widely. You will be contacted by the NHS when it’s your turn so please do not contact your GP to ask about the vaccine.”
If you need medical advice or treatment, there are lots of options available to you:
- Self-care is about keeping fit and healthy, understanding when you can look after yourself – including managing any long-term conditions you have, and knowing when you need to speak to your GP, pharmacist, or another health professional.
- Pharmacists are trained to help with a range of symptoms and are often open in the evenings and at weekends. Find your nearest pharmacy online and check their opening times. Do not go to a pharmacy if you have COVID-19 symptoms.
- If you’re not sure which service is right for you or if you need urgent medical help, use the NHS 111 online service, or call 111 if you are unable to get help online.
- If you are feeling anxious, depressed or simply need someone to talk to, contact Mindsmatter, Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm on 01695 684 177 or online: www.lscft.nhs.uk/mindsmatter2-self-referral
- For help from a GP, visit your GP surgery’s website, use an online service to contact your GP, or call the surgery.
- For life-threatening emergencies, call 999 for an ambulance.