The Oak Tree Centre, 1 Oak Drive, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 7HN

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Telephone: 01480 483100

Fax: 01480 483133

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COVID-19 Vaccine Update


Posted on September 18th, 2020

We know there’s been a lot of discussion in the news this week about GPs providing face-to face-appointments. We wanted to reassure our patients that throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, although for safety reasons our Reception Desk is closed, the Practice has remained fully open during normal working hours offering patients alternative ways of accessing our Team. We’ve worked hard to make sure we’ve remained available to speak to, and to offer appointments to, anyone who’s needed them.

In the past 6 months we’ve had to make many changes to the way we work and how we structure the service, often having to implement change on a daily basis as new regulations and detailed guidelines arrive from Government, NHS England, our CCG and other regulatory bodies such as the Royal College, the BMA and CQC. We’ve introduced enhanced infection control measures, organised remote working, carried out detailed risk assessments for every process and managed understandable anxieties that have been felt across the whole team.

Our Clinicians have provided appointments using new technologies and although we know that patients sometimes prefer to see a GP or nurse face-to-face, there are reasons why we’ve offered additional telephone, video and online consultations in the past few months – and Government guidance has played a big part in this.

It has remained the case that if we’ve needed to see a patient in person, or felt it was important for their care, we’ve asked those patients to come in, taking all the infection control requirements into consideration, including patients wearing face coverings and using hand sanitiser when in the surgery. In addition, our clinicians change PPE and thoroughly clean their clinical rooms in between patients, all of which adds additional time to each appointment when a patient is seen face-to-face.

We also understand that some patients are reluctant to come and see us in the surgery as they’re worried about being infected with the Virus. We have made sure that social distancing is as good as it possibly can be and that we maintain a ‘COVID-secure’ environment, taking into account the number of patients in the Practice at any one time, their risk factors which make them vulnerable, and our own staff whose ethnicity or health issues make them more at risk to the effects of COVID-19. As caring employers, we need to ensure we take the right precautions to keep our staff safe as well as our patients.

There’s nothing we’d like to see more than a return to ‘normal’ life and the range of care we’ve always provided, but at the moment offering fewer face-to-face appointments keeps patients safe and helps us to provide a wider range of access, so expanding patient choice, which includes on-line consultations using DoctorLink, video consultations and consultations over the phone. This allows us to provide the maximum number of appointments we possibly can. In the past few weeks we’ve begun to reintroduce in-person appointments for things such as cervical smears, immunisations, health checks and plan to start minor surgery procedures shortly and, in line with guidance, we’ll continue to increase the range of services we provide, but only when this is safe to do so. We will continue to see those patients who need in-person appointments following a telephone, video or on-line consultation with one of our Clinicians.

As always, we’re available to talk to patients but as the telephone lines become increasingly busy, we are encouraging patients who have a non-urgent need to contact us using the online facility via DoctorLink – which is available to access from the home page of our website; this will allow our phone lines to remain available for more urgent issues. We are making contact with patients who need to have blood tests or reviews so that appointments can be arranged.

While we understand patients’ frustrations with the current situation, we hope you’ll continue to help and support us so that we can go on providing you with care as things move forward. We would like to offer sincere thanks to our patients for the understanding and encouragement the’ve shown in these very difficult and unprecedented times.

There’s lots of things happening behind the scenes but please remember that even during lockdown we remained fully open and continued to support our patients, albeit sometimes using different methods of communication. Further information about how healthcare is being delivered can be found at this link…cing/using-the-nhs-and-other-health-services/

With best wishes,
Acorn Surgery Team