How our GP Practices responded to the COVID-19 outbreak

Published: 27 May 2020

We recently spoke with some of our GP practice staff, to discover how they’ve responded to the COVID-19 outbreak and what they’ve learnt from the experience.

Working on the front line of the COIVD-19 response isn’t limited to hospitals. Lianne Jerome, Senior Practice Manager at Field House Surgery in Bridlington, and Susan Smith, Senior Practice Manager at our Market Weighton Surgery, shared their experiences with us.

How are you and your team handling the COVID-19 crisis?

Our staff have adjusted amazingly. Of course it was unsettling in the initial weeks but they now feel like they’re simply working smarter. We’ve introduced video consultations, which was quite a scary move in the beginning, but it has had great feedback from staff and patients and has eventually made our lives easier.

At the Market Weighton Surgery, we bring our clinicians together at 7:45 every morning to brief them on the latest guidance and allow staff to raise any queries or concerns. In the beginning especially, this was vital as the guidance was changing multiple times a day. Now it simply gives us an opportunity to check in with our staff and ensure they have everything they need for the day ahead.

As a team, we’ve all just come together. We have a strong team spirit and although there have been many challenges along the way; it has brought everyone closer together which has been wonderful.

 

How has the outbreak affected your day to day tasks?

The fact that a lot of our services are now digital means that our surgeries are a lot quieter than usual. I think it was sort of like a ‘rip the band aid off’ situation, as in the beginning it felt unnatural, but now we’ve done it we see the benefits and it’s working really well.

Our clinicians’ diaries are still full but look rather different. Instead of seeing patients face to face, they do online video consultations and phone calls. Urgent referrals and appointments still go ahead, but otherwise we have limited in-person contact as much as possible.

Market Weighton Surgery has been a top performing practice for using the Engage Consult online service for a while now. This allows you to consult your Dr by completing a short questionnaire. Thanks to new initiatives, we’re also now providing two way communication on the platform too.

Although it’s a strange time for all, it’s allowed us to learn new, effective ways of working and improve our services. We want to take a lot of these changes forward with us as we’ve had such great feedback. The new digital platforms we have introduced will allow us to give patients more choice and we will continue to trial innovative methods to see which ones work best for both staff and patients.

 

What would you say you have learned so far, from this experience?

We know better than ever how much we can rely on our colleagues. Not only to do their jobs, but to be there to lift each other up and support one another. Everyone has been willing to get stuck in and it’s been amazing to see.

It’s been a long road to get to this point but we have learnt so much from the experience. The support from managers has been amazing and we can’t thank them enough for ensuring we always had everything we needed, from PPE to guidance and procedures.

Personally, I’m quite new to the team [Susan], so I’ve learned how strong my colleagues are and how well we work together as a team. We have a great mix of skills and the sharing of knowledge and support has only made us stronger. We have certainly all learnt something from this experience I would  like to send a personal thank you to everyone in the practice – they have all made me feel welcome and have never complained about needing to explain things. Nothing is too much for anyone, thank you for being wonderful.

 

How have you experienced the increase usage of PPE?

We have good stock and we’ve even received some additional donations from the local communities so that has been much appreciated. We feel very well protected and our staff are trained in knowing how to use it correctly.

We feel very appreciative to the Trust and Infection and Prevention Control teams for ensuring we were set up with stock very early and that this has been maintained throughout.

 

What helps you along the way?

The donations have been brilliant, we’ve had Easter Eggs, pamper packs and food hampers…all sorts. It’s blown us away and makes us feel so appreciated.

The Clap for Carers’ on Thursdays always makes us very emotional. It’s a really unique thing we’re experiencing right now and it’s nice to know people are thinking about us at this time.

The fact our staff all come into work and simply get on with it, is something we can’t quite describe. It allows us to work well together and keep our routine going, despite the worries and anxieties we all have. Knowing that we are in it together as a team helps us to stay positive and focused, and above all, allows us to keep ourselves and others safe.

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