A note on staff shortages caused by self-isolating

Like people, families and businesses everywhere, we are having to deal with issues caused by staff members needing to self-isolate.

After a challenging few weeks, and in the interest of being completely open and honest, we wanted to share with you why this is causing us more issues than it might appear at first.

Self-isolation in GP practices

Obviously, with any positive cases of covid-19, everyone needs to self-isolate for a period of 10 days. This is the same for NHS staff as it is for people everywhere. Self-isolating is key to stopping the spread of coronavirus.

Where rules differ for us is around being close contacts of someone else who tests positive.

Since mid-August, people who have been double-vaccinated do not need to self-isolate if they are a close contact of a positive covid case.

However, for staff at GP practices, this is not the same. When we are notified of being a contact, we need to immediately leave work and self-isolate until we have had a PCR test come back negative.

Depending on timing, test availability and turnaround, this can mean unplanned absences of up to 2 days. Any such absence will have an impact on some part of the practice, whether it’s answering calls, sending referral letters, taking blood samples or seeing patients.

The situation is even more complicated if the positive case is someone we live with. In that instance, we cannot return to work in person for the full 10 days, even if we get a negative PCR test. Staff can of course work from home, where their role and responsibilities allow, but this is another layer of complication we have to deal with.

We are here to help

To be clear – we are here to provide a service to you, and if you need medical help you should absolutely get in touch or visit us as you normally would. People should never feel guilty or a burden when asking for help from their GP practice.

We have continued to offer face-to-face appointments when appropriate right through the pandemic. When people do need to be seen in person, we have been doing so on the same day.

What we are saying is that, while we will always try to deliver the best possible service to you, there may be times when issues outside of our control impact our ability to do that.

How you can help

There are a few things you can do that will make it easier for us to manage requests, and quicker for you to get what you need.

With prescriptions, please consider ordering earlier than you normally would. We normally ask for 2-3 days to process prescriptions, so if you are running lower, please think about sending a request that bit earlier. Remember too that you can have your prescription sent directly to a pharmacist of your choice for collection.

There has also been some press coverage about face-to-face appointments at GP practices, and we want to make clear that when an in-person consultation is clinically necessary, a same-day appointment will be made available. However, a lot of issues do not require a face-to-face visit, and can much more quickly and efficiently be dealt with either over the phone or through Salvie, which offers patients quick solutions and lots of flexibility.

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Jesmond Health Partnership was formed in 2019. Read more about us and meet the Team here.