Drive-thru appointments, home visits and video calls keep GP practices open during coronavirus pandemic

Drive-thru GP appointments are just one of a number of initiatives helping practices in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire to continue providing much-needed care to local communities throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Several practices in the region have adopted the car-park-clinic model to ensure that patients, specifically those who have symptoms of coronavirus or who live in the same house as somebody who has symptoms, are able to receive healthcare in a safe and protected way.

The new contactless system, which is only in use at selected practices for people whose conditions cannot be assessed virtually, involves patients driving to a marquee and receiving care and treatment through their window while remaining in the car.

Patients who do not have access to a car, or are too unwell to visit the drive-thru clinic, have not been forgotten, as teams have also established a mobile visiting service that ensures healthcare is delivered just as it would be in a practice but from the patient’s own home.

Elsewhere, people whose conditions do not require a face-to-face consultation have been receiving care through online video calls.

Although not a new initiative, the use of video consultations has ramped up considerably in recent weeks with the number of online calls across the region rising from around 1,000 a week at the beginning of the year to nearly 3,000 a week in April.

Tracey Cox, Chief Executive, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “The response from our primary care colleagues to the coronavirus outbreak has been exemplary on every level.

“Coming up with new, innovative and unusual methods of care is one thing, but adopting them and making them work to a high standard in such a short space of time is something else completely.  

“For all the pain, sorrow and suffering the coronavirus outbreak has brought to our region, it has shown us the heroic lengths people will selflessly go to when trying to help others.”

All GP practices in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire remain open at this time, however most have adopted new ways of working.

Patients in need of care are reminded to contact their GP practice by phone when looking to arrange an appointment, and not to visit in person.

Based on the initial telephone conversation, the team at each practice will then identify the most appropriate appointment type, be it a phone call, video consultation or, in some essential faces, a face-to-face appointment.

More information about coronavirus, as well as details of what to do when displaying symptoms, can be found online at