As the next few weeks are likely to see a rapid rise in cases of Coronavirus, we felt it was important to give you an update of how we plan to support you over, what will be, a very challenging time.
A number of patients have asked for this to be in a “Frequently Asked Questions” format. This will not cover the basic information of Coronavirus itself as these are all covered by a multitude of websites of which the most relevant and up-to-date is the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
This email will therefore focus on issues that are relevant to all of us at Courtfield.
- Is the Surgery still open?
Answer: Yes – the Surgery is open but we are consulting almost exclusively via telephone or email in order to keep you, our staff and ourselves safe. We now know that a significant proportion of people with Coronavirus have no symptoms, but will still potentially be infectious to others, and it is for that reason that “social distancing” at all times, is so important
We are therefore not allowing access to the building to anybody without an appointment.
In addition to the Doctor and Reception team at the Surgery, other members of the medical team are working from home and available to consult with you.
Please remember that we are also still here to deal with any non-Coronavirus related enquiries.
2. What if I need to be examined by a Doctor?
Answer: If having spoken to you we feel that a physical examination is appropriate then we will try to arrange this.
This will usually be at the Surgery, or it may be possible to organise this at home.
All physical examinations will need to be performed with your Doctor wearing a mask, gloves and an apron, and you will also be asked to wear a mask.
Please do not bring anybody else with you to the appointment, if at all possible. For parents or carers of children, we would also ask that only one parent or carer accompany a child to the consultation.
Please do not come to the consultation yourself if you have any upper respiratory symptoms or have been in contact with possible Coronavirus patients in the previous two weeks.
A few patients who are recovering from Coronavirus, have requested a consultation for a doctor to listen to their chests. Whilst we understand that this can be reassuring, it will rarely add anything to the management of your symptoms and may put the Doctor at risk of being unable to work at this crucial time.
3. Should I still come for annual medicals, routine checks or vaccinations?
Answer: No – we will not be carrying out routine medicals or check-ups until the Coronavirus outbreak is over.
Routine childhood vaccinations, however, should continue – in the first instance please speak to your Doctor to discuss this, as some vaccinations can be safely delayed.
4. Can I collect my prescription at the Surgery?
Answer: No – all prescriptions are now being sent to your local Pharmacy, or if you prefer, our home delivery service can bring the medicine to you.
The home delivery service is, however, under great pressure and it is taking up to 5 days for medicines to be delivered. They are also not able to deal with requests for medication which is required urgently, and these prescriptions will need to be sent to your local Pharmacy.
5. Can I still be referred to a Specialist at this time?
Answer: Yes – although most specialists are also consulting by telephone, email or video link. Certain tests such as endoscopy are not being carried out as they are deemed to be a “high-risk” procedure but it may be possible to arrange other tests and examinations – particularly if there are for urgent non-Coronavirus related problems.
6. If I need to be admitted to hospital with Coronavirus can this be arranged privately?
Answer: No – Private Hospitals e.g. BUPA Cromwell and Lister Hospitals are not accepting Coronavirus patients, but are supporting the NHS by looking after non-Coronavirus NHS patients, in order to free up capacity at the two main Coronavirus hospitals in our area (Chelsea & Westminster Hospital and Royal Brompton Hospital).
7. What about testing for Coronavirus?
Answer: There are currently two types of tests – the test for active infection itself (known as a PCR swab – taken from the nose and throat) and a finger prick antibody test which looks for both active infection as well as past infection.
The swab test is currently available privately, and the finger prick test should be available in the next few weeks, once the Government is satisfied the test is accurate.
We will update you once the position is clearer with respect to approved testing.
8. If I think I have Coronavirus what should I do?
Answer: In the first instance it is worth visiting the NHS 111 online “symptom checker”, which will take you through a series of questions to assess the severity of your symptoms. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms-and-what-to-do/
The vast majority of us that catch Coronavirus will have a relatively mild illness, with cough, fever, muscle aching and headache as the most common symptoms.
These symptoms typically last 5-7 days before starting to improve. After 7 days you are unlikely to be infectious to others.
For those of you with a more severe cough or shortness of breath, and if the symptom checker has not answered your questions, then contact us for advice.
In the past 10 days we have managed many individuals and families with Coronavirus symptoms who we have reviewed on a daily basis. We have only had to admit one patient to hospital so far, who needed oxygen therapy for a few days but was discharged over the weekend.
We understand how shortness of breath and cough can be frightening, so please do contact us if you are worried.
9. Are their any specific treatments for Coronavirus?
Answer: Whilst there are many trials currently ongoing, no particular treatment has yet been shown to be effective – other than oxygen therapy and ventilation for the more severe cases.
In the past week there has been a lot of interest in Hydroxychloroquine. Studies have not yet shown definite benefit, and therefore neither this, nor any other drug treatments can be recommended at the present time. However, studies are ongoing and this advice may change at any time.
Please remember that if you have a fever, that you should treat this with Paracetamol only and not use Ibuprofen (Nurofen) or any medicines that contain Ibuprofen.
10. How do we contact you when the Surgery is closed?
Answer: In order to help support the “Out-of-Hours” Service provided by our colleagues at Concierge Doctor, tel: 020 7486 0701, we will also be introducing a Courtfield Out-of-Hours helpline (staffed by one of our own Doctors), to support you when the surgery is closed. This line will be open until 11.30 p.m. and also at weekends (from 8.30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. – Saturdays and Sundays). Please contact 07801 748 692 – best to send a text message in the first instance.
There will be a fee for this Service of between £80 – £150 depending on the time spent. Membership patients will be entitled to a 25% discount.
Please do not share this number with friends as this is for Courtfield patients only.
Hopefully, we have only a few weeks to go before this virus reaches its peak and then we will be into the recovery phase of this pandemic – at least, in London.
Rest assured that throughout this time, we will be doing everything we can do to support you and your loved ones should you have any questions or concerns.
From all of us at Courtfield
ASTHMA & COVID-19: www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/coronavirus-covid-19/
ELDERLY SOCIAL DISTANCING: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults
DIABETES & COVID-19: www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/coronavirus