NHS Digital are aware of several ongoing spam SMS campaigns seeking to exploit the ongoing UK Coronavirus vaccination efforts. These campaigns variously claim to be from the UK Government, the NHS, Test and Trace, GP surgeries, pharmacies, or from other health organisations like the WHO. Typically, the content of these messages attempts to direct users to phishing sites or connect them to high-cost premium number services, although in some cases the messages contain false or misleading information about the Coronavirus vaccines themselves.
If you or someone in your organisation has received these messages, they should be reported to Action Fraud and forwarded to the free 7726 SMS reporting service. For further guidance on how to identify malicious SMS messages please see the following links from Ofcom and the NCSC.
HOW TO ACCESS YOUR GP PRACTICE
COVID 19 – Translated Resources
Please click on the link for a list of resources available in translation about COVID19 with a brief description, languages and any specific topics. https://www.cuckfieldmedicalpractice.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/COVID19-Translated-resources.docx
PLEASE DO NOT COME INTO THE PRACTICE FOR ANY OTHER REASON THAN HAVING A CONFIRMED APPOINTMENT. THERE ARE BOXES IN THE LOBBY AREA FOR DROPPING OFF OF PRESCRIPTIONS, REGISTRATIONS, LETTERS, ETC. DO NOT COME INTO THE PRACTICE TO GIVE THEM TO A RECEPTIONIST.
Face masks or coverings are now mandatory in most public areas.
We understand that some patients will be anxious about wearing a mask especially those with certain medical conditions.
GP’s are not required or in a position to provide exemption letters for patients who believe they should be exempt from wearing a face covering.
The current guidance suggests there is no requirement for the public to provide medical evidence for exemption from wearing face masks therefore a self- declaration should be sufficient.
Please go to the GOV.UK link below for more information on the use of face coverings. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own
For specific requirements in reference to public transport, shops or other areas where masks are required please contact those specific companies for further information.
Lockdown announcement 31st October 2020
We understand that with the announcement of a new lockdown there are going to be a number of patients concerned about the situation, especially those in the very vulnerable risk groups and also those with children attending educational settings. The current government advice about high risk groups is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november?fbclid=IwAROK7Xgty8LCRd307ELMbOEMR7doeGPWFR3jPEoeofKFjzYOnsP8h3WuisQ#protecting-people-more-at-risk-from-coronavirus
Please do be aware that we will not be restricting any of our services to patients and this means that screening services such as cervical screening WILL continue. We will not be cancelling any appointments and would ask patients not to cancel any face to face appointments that they may have as these can safely continue. Further publication is due MONDAY 2nd November and the Government will be writing to affected patients. The current guidance for protecting extremely clinically vulnerable groups is available here and is a useful link. The GPs at the surgery have no additional information above and beyond this and are unable to help with requests for sick notes or other letters in such circumstances.
For people concerned about children attending educational settings; we understand and empathise with the concerns around children attending school at this time, especially if a household has extremely vulnerable members. As a Practice we are very sorry but decisions about children attending school are not ours to make and is not something we can help with. We would suggest a discussion between the people involved and the school to decide on the best course of action.
Your COVID Recovery website launched
Phase 1 of the Your COVID Recovery website has been launched to link to the site please click here.
It is a new NHS website designed to help people recover from the long-term effects of Covid-19 and support them to manage their recovery. It includes information from rehabilitation experts about how to manage ongoing symptoms and health needs at home, and signposts to sources of support. It also includes information on returning to work, and a helpful section for family, friends and carers of people who are recovering.
Self Isolation prior to a hospital procedure
Patients may be advised by their hospital to self isolate for 14 days prior to a hospital procedure. The Practice cannot provide a medical certificate/sick note to cover this period. We are aware that the Government should be producing something for patients to give to employers who require evidence. Alternatively you can show an employer a confirmation of the hospital appointment.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can now ask for a test to check if you have the virus. This is called an antigen test.
There is another type of test (antibody test) that checks if you’ve already had the virus. No antibody tests are available locally for patients at the moment and therefore will not be offered with routine blood tests as announced.
Use the link below for information on test availability and how to book a test. Please note, the Practice cannot book a test for you.
Update to guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable (shielding)
You will have seen that the Government has updated the guidance for people who are clinically
extremely vulnerable to Covid 19 and have been advised to shield. The update from Government
comes into effect from today. In summary the changes are:
The advice for people identified as clinically extremely vulnerable is that they should
continue to shield until at least the 30 June but from 1 June, they can spend a short period
of time outdoors each day with members of their household, still maintaining 2m distance
If the shielded person lives alone, the Government is advising they can meet one other
person from a different household, maintaining strict social distancing. The advice is that
this be the same person each time.
Important aspects of Government’s policy and guidance remain the same. Apart from going
outside once per day, a shielded person should continue to avoid all non-essential face to
face contact. This means they should still not go shopping or to pharmacies.
The support for shielded people remains in place and unchanged.
The Government has also confirmed that it will be reviewing shielding guidance alongside wider
changes to social distancing, including plans to write to those on the shielding patients list with
information about next steps on shielding after the next review on 15 June.
Covid and Fit notes
We have received a number of queries regarding requests for Fit notes. There is guidance available for employers and employees here:
- COVID-19: guidance for employees
- Online isolation notes launched – providing proof of coronavirus absence from work
1. Patients in the ‘very high risk’ group who have received a shielding letter should use that letter as evidence for employers. Patients who are not on this list but feel that they should be added can contact their specialist. At the time of writing it remains the case that general practice has been asked not to add patients to this group nor to send out any additional ‘shielding’ letters. Further guidance on this is awaited.
2. People who are in isolation either because they or someone in their household is symptomatic should download an ‘isolation note’ from the 111 website.
3. For those in the ‘vulnerable’ (‘flu jab eligible’ or over 70y) group, employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements and employers should take every possible step to facilitate working from home… or ensure that employees are able to follow PHE guidelines (on social distancing etc) when at work. Employers are specifically asked not to trouble GPs for fit notes or other evidence. In essence it is a matter between the employer and the employee.
GUIDANCE FROM NHS ENGLAND HAS BEEN UPDATED. PLEASE DO NOT COME TO THE PRACTICE IF YOU HAVE ANY SYMPTOMS OF A COUGH, COLD OR TEMPERATURE. You should stay at home, self isolate for 14 days and if you feel unwell with the symptoms contact NHS111. If you have symptoms but do not feel unwell, please do not contact the Practice, stay at home and self isolate. The Practice is prioritising patients with urgent medical needs. If you do need to speak with a Doctor, telephone the Practice and a GP or our Paramedic Practitioner will call you back. If they feel you do need to be seen, they will arrange an appointment for you. Our phone lines are extremely busy so please bare with us.
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.
Use this service if:
- you think you might have coronavirus;
- in the last 14 days you’ve been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus;
- you’ve been in close contact with someone with coronavirus.
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Call 111 if you need to speak to someone.
Like the common cold, coronavirus infection usually occurs through close contact with a person with novel coronavirus via cough and sneezes or hand contact. A person can also catch the virus by touching contaminated surfaces if they do not wash their hands.
Testing of suspected coronavirus cases is carried out in line with strict guidelines. This means that suspected cases are kept in isolation, away from public areas of GP surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals and returned home also in isolation. Any equipment that come into contact with suspected cases are thoroughly cleaned as appropriate. Specific guidance has also been shared with NHS staff to help safeguard them and others. Patients can be reassured that their safety is a top priority, and are encouraged to attend all appointments as usual.
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.
To keep all of our patients and staff safe, we have suspended all on-line booking of appointments in line with NHSE guidelines.
We appreciate that this may be inconvenient for some of our patients, however our priority has to be the safety of all patients and staff and this will enable us to better manage the appointment demand.
We are introducing more telephone consultations and you may be called by a GP who will make a clinical decision as to whether you need to be seen at the Practice.
If you are experiencing any cough, cold, fever or flu symptoms or have been in contact with anyone who has, DO NOT COME INTO THE PRACTICE. You should self-isolate and stay at home.
The Practice thanks you for your consideration during this time. We will keep our website updated.
Get an isolation note
Use this service if you have to stay at home because of coronavirus and you need a note for your employer.
If you have to stay at home but feel well enough to work, ask your employer if you can work from home. If you can work from home, you will not need an isolation note.
You can also use this service for someone else.
Click here to follow the link: https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/
ASTHMA RESCUE PACKS
We appreciate that this is a worrying time for all those with a respiratory/chest condition. We have had a number of queries from patients who have asthma to see if they can have a standby pack of antibiotics or steroids in case they get symptoms. We have no current evidence that antibiotics or steroids make any difference to coronavirus. However, there are clearly all the normal seasonal viruses and bacteria going around. Currently, it is our practice policy to not give you a stand by emergency pack. If you get symptoms of wheeze and tight chest, and you are not managing with your usual asthma emergency treatment, ie stepping up on your inhalers, then please call the practice/111 for advice. As the situation progresses, we may change this policy, but this is the current standpoint in our practice.
There are some exceptions, and this is usually more relevant to those with COPD, another lung condition; some of those patients will have been using emergency packs for years and know clearly when to use them and when it is not safe to do so, we will still issue these packs. However even in this group, if you are unwell and not managing with your usual treatment, you must phone the surgery or 111 for advice.
GUIDANCE on SELF-ISOLATION and SOCIAL DISTANCING for COVID 19
This has been written to help you understand the difference between self isolation and social distancing and who is being advised to do which. We strongly suggest that you read this and work out which applies to you as an individual. It would be really sensible to discuss this with everyone who lives in the same house as you, your line manager at work and those who you would normally wish to socialise with. If need be, print this off & show it to them. Your Doctors are busy trying to save lives, so please DO NOT contact them asking for letters which justify your need to Self-Isolate or Social Distance. The flow chart below shows what you should be doing and what paperwork is available:
What is SELF ISOLATION and what should I do or not do? You MUST stay at home and NOT leave the house. If possible, you should not go out even to buy food or other essentials. If you need to leave the house to do some exercise, it must be at a safe distance from others (more than 2 metres away).
More info here:
What is SHIELDING and what should I do or not do? You are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact, with anyone, for a period of at least 12 weeks. This period of time may change.
More info here:
Hospitals and GP surgeries have been given this additional information:
What is SOCIAL DISTANCING and what should I do or not do? Please note that this applies to EVERYONE who is not in self isolation or shielding.
1. Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.
2. Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible.
3. Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this.
4. Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
5. Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
6. Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.
More info here:
Additional Information from the World Health Organisation: