GPs appeal for people with Covid-19 symptoms to stay away from local surgeries
GPs in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire have appealed for people to stay away from local surgeries if they have any Covid-19 symptoms to help stop the spread of the virus.
Surgeries and other healthcare settings across the region have been forced to cancel clinics and appointments at short notice in recent weeks as a growing number of practice staff have had to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid-19.
Patients can help to address this rising problem and support surgeries to operate as efficiently as possible by cancelling their face-to-face appointments if they have a high temperature, a new continuous cough, a change to their sense of taste or smell, or any of the milder Omicron symptoms reported such as a continuous headache, runny nose, sneezing and sore throat.
Cancelling appointments as soon as symptoms develop will give practices more time to offer slots to other patients who need to attend.
Patients who are unwell and unable to visit their practice in person due to their symptoms may be offered a telephone appointment with a GP or other healthcare professional.
Medical help for people who are self-isolating is also available from the online NHS 111 service or 111 phone service.
Dr Amanda Webb, Locality Clinical Chair for Swindon, said: “We are seeing more and more appointments and clinics cancelled across BSW because the dedicated staff at our GP practices are having to self-isolate after contracting Covid-19.
“Our primary care services are under intense pressure – in December alone, our practices had more than 275,000 face-to-face appointments and more than 153,000 telephone appointments, as well as playing their vital part in the vaccination programme.
“Many practices are also short staffed, so even a small number of staff being off work can have a huge impact on our ability to deliver the services people need.
“Everyone can play their part in helping to address this problem by staying away from our surgeries if they have any of the symptoms associated with Covid, even if they haven’t tested positive on a lateral flow test.
“By doing so, they will give our hard-working staff a chance to stay healthy, do their jobs and keep seeing those patients who need to be seen.”
People can also help themselves to stay healthy this winter by having the Covid-19 vaccine, the follow-up second dose and the all-important booster jab, which helps ensure protection against the new Omicron variant of coronavirus.
Vaccines continue to be available from a range of locations across the region, including Bath Racecourse, Salisbury City Hall and the Steam Museum in Swindon.
Most venues now offer walk-in vaccinations, but people can still pre-book appointments by visiting www.nhs.uk or calling 119.
More information about the local rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, as well as further details of healthcare services across the region, can be found at www.bswicb.nhs.uk.