Hornchurch Healthcare

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What we have been up to…

We received a really lovely comment on NHS choices over the weekend which acknowledged just how challenging things have been since the start of the pandemic.  It made me reflect on the difficulties facing patients and their healthcare teams and so I thought I would share some of the changes we have made. 

Back in March we were instructed to change the way we had operated for years, no – decades, and close our doors.  This went against everything we were used to but was necessary to try and curb the spread of Covid-19.  We had to follow new operating policies and rapidly produce risk assessments and health and safety guidance.  

Throughout the pandemic our priority has been to make sure we are as accessible as possible.  This is not easy as we have over 8000 patients, all with different needs.  We installed safety screens, a door intercom and a one way flow through our building.  Our staff all have PPE – which until last week we had to fund ourselves.  The Government have finally agreed to provide PPE to GPs for this winter period. We have also more than doubled the number of phone lines we have, purchased a call waiting system so you should never get an engaged tone and we have increased the number of admin and reception staff available to answer your call. 

We are now obliged to triage everyone coming in to the building to ensure they do not have any symptoms of Covid-19. This is vital to make sure we don’t become the centre of an outbreak and most importantly so you feel you are able to come to see us safely. If you have had an appointment with us you may have received a text message requesting you complete a form about any possible symptoms.  This need for triage means we can’t just book face to face appointments anymore but if you need to speak to a nurse or GP you will get a phone call initially. If you do need to be seen in person – and plenty do – we will arrange it for you and usually on the same day or a day that suits you. We have to wear full PPE for every consultation.  To make sure everyone can access the healthcare they need we have also expanded our clinical team – we have a nurse prescriber who joined us at the height of the pandemic and we have an additional GP starting next week.  

There have been real challenges – we actually do miss seeing our patients!  It has been great to catch up with some of you at our recent flu clinics. But, we have a duty of care and this means we must make sure we keep patients, staff and our own families safe. As you know, our waiting room is not very large and in order to maintain social distancing we can only allow 6 people in there at once.  Gone are the days of a packed out waiting room full of coughs and colds on an autumn morning. As you might expect we have also faced staff absences either due to infection with Covid-19 or other illnesses, some staff have had to self- isolate when their family members have been symptomatic and some have faced bereavement directly due to Covid-19.  None of these challenges are going away and so we must continue to operate in the current way until infection rates can be controlled or we have an effective vaccine. 

Finally, I just wanted to highlight how much our team has been doing!  Between 1st June and 30th Sept we provided: 

1817 Face to Face appointments 

4889 Telephone consultations 

416 e-consultations 

433 Home visits 

484 Flu clinic appointments 

189 Mother and baby checks 

So you can see we have been rather busy – just in different ways!  We look forward to a time when we can see more of you face to face, but until then we extend a huge thank you to all of our patients for their support and for working with us to keep everyone safe. 

Dr Burtenshaw​