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Immediate changes on how to access face to face GP appointments

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DUE to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in the UK, GP practices in Warrington and Halton are changing the way patients book face to face appointments with immediate effect.

This follows national recommendations from NHS England to help protect both patients and staff providing NHS services from the risk of infection. It also helps to manage increasing demand on local healthcare services due to COVID-19.

From today (Monday 16 March), all patients registered with practices in Warrington and Halton will need to contact their surgery in the first instance via either telephone or by completing an online form on their local surgery website.

Patients will be asked for some initial information about their health concern and then later they will receive a call back from a doctor or nurse who will offer them a face to face appointment if necessary or provide health advice. This is called a ‘triage’ process and enables practices to prioritise face to face appointments for patients most in need and it also helps avoid unnecessary visits to surgeries for some patients.

Arrangements may vary slightly in different practices so patients are advised to visit their surgery website for more information or call the surgery directly. As a result of the new recommendations, all online appointment booking systems have been temporarily suspended but online prescription services are still available.

Dr Andrew Davies, Clinical Chief Officer for NHS Halton Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Our highest priority is the safety of both patients and the hard working and dedicated staff in our local healthcare services. By following national recommendations and putting in place these changes, it will allow us to deal with increasing demand on NHS services due to Coronavirus and most importantly ensure that all patients in Halton and Warrington receive the care they need, when they need it.

“We would like to thank patients for their understanding and reassure them that we are working closely with NHS England, Halton Borough Council, Warrington Borough Council and local healthcare staff to make sure that what we are doing is always in the best interests of both our patients and local healthcare staff.”

“Please can we also remind patients that if you are suffering with the symptoms of Coronavirus which includes a high temperature or a new, continuous cough, you should stay at home for seven days and you should not visit your GP practice, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them that you are staying at home unless your condition worsens, you cannot cope with your symptoms or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. A community management service has been put in place for people who meet this criteria. This is only available via NHS 111 and will not be available via your GP practice.”

For the most up to date information and advice on coronavirus please visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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