Important information about the coronavirus (COVID-19)
The NHS across Teesside will be better prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases, if the public follows Public Health England advice.
The NHS has put in place measures to ensure the safety of patients and staff which may mean your patient experience is subject to change.
The Chief Medical Officer announced on Friday 13 March that the country is moving into the ‘Delay’ stage of the response to coronavirus (Covid-19).
The new advice issued by the Chief Medical Officer is to stay at home for 7 days if you have either:
- a high temperature or
- a new continuous cough or
- a change in your usual sense of smell/taste
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or a hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
- you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
- your condition gets worse
- your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
Stay At Home advice can be found here.
Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:
- Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
Information remains subject to regular change and updates. More information can be found on the NHS website here.
COVID 19 Vulnerability
We are receiving lots of questions from people about whether they are vulnerable to COVID19 & whether they need to be shielding themselves. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the letters & texts which are being sent out to people by the Government. Some people in the HIGHEST risk category are being asked to practice social isolation for 12 weeks. These people need to take extra precautions and are entitled to extra help from the Government. They should have received a letter informing them of what to do & how to access the extra help. This is a small number of people with severe illnesses who need to take extreme care over the next few months. They are almost all under the care of a hospital specialist who has added them to the list of people at extremely high risk.
There is another, much larger, group of people who are at higher than usual risk. These people need to be strict with their social distancing but do not need to practice social isolation and will not qualify for the support offered to those in the highest risk group.
Many patients are contacting us saying they have been advised to speak to their GP about their risk. So far none of the people asking if they have been missed off the list for the HIGHEST risk letter.
Please check the lists available online regarding who is at EXTREMELY HIGH RISK before calling the practice to ask if you should have had a letter. We are searching through the practice systems now to identify anyone who might have been missed and can’t spend the time having the discussions with everyone in the HIGHER risk group.
The lists are available on the government website and in the attached document.
Employment Issues – Isolation Notes
We are also receiving many calls from people saying that their employer has told them that they need a letter from their GP to confirm that they are supposed to be socially isolating. This is not needed. The text or letter from the Government which was sent to those in the HIGHEST risk group should be all that an employer needs. If you are not in the HIGHEST risk group and feel that you should not be going to work then that is a matter for you to work out with your employer.
All employers should be familiar with the COVID19 guidance for employers . Especially the part about sick pay and respecting the need of people to self isolate if they or a family member have symptoms. Your employer has a responsibility to make adjustments to keep you safe at work. This is a matter to be worked out between you and your employer and should not involve your GP practice.
The practice will not be providing isolation notes – for information on the new online isolation note service click here