Welcome to the June blog – which is again dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and our ongoing fight. I fear it will remain the case for some months to come. Although we are certainly not at the end of this pandemic, there are some green shoots of hope that means we can see light at the end of the tunnel.
Presently our work as GPs remains anything but normal but we are meeting the challenge in being able to treat our patients at this time, whilst staying as safe as possible. We have been doing this by increasing the level to which we triage the patient’s needs in advance, before treating them either remotely or if required face to face whilst taking necessary precautions. We are as a locality looking into how we retain some of the positive working practices that have been introduced as a result of Covid-19 and I am hopeful that routinely offering alternative types of consultations for patients, dependent on needs, will be included. It’s a must that we maintain the beneficial new ways of working by continuing to offer phone/video consultations and to issue prescriptions electronically.
For suspected Covid-19 patients, we have continued to ensure they are seen at the borough’s ‘hot site’ near to the Infirmary where all the necessary protection measures are in place for the benefit of staff, patients and family members. The fact that this facility is now working at reduced hours illustrates the overall decline of infections which is positive news.
What’s essential is that although covid cases are decreasing slowly, we still need to stick by government guidelines about social distancing, handwashing and avoiding larger outdoor group meetings.
Last month we were delighted that the long anticipated Kirkholt Medical Practice opened its doors to patients. The previous practice premises were no longer fit for purpose and so the opening of the state of the art centre was a welcome piece of news in these times. You can see some images of the new centre within our latest news on our website here.
This week we have opened the north west’s first walk in covid testing site, at the Rochdale Town Hall car park. It caters for symptomatic people within a one and a half mile (walkable) radius of the site. Anyone within the catchment can book a test appointment at the site through a free phone number, 0808 1964 100 to book an appointment at the site which operates seven days a week. You will need to show a confirmation email (printed or on a mobile device) as well as ID. A face covering must be worn at all times by those attending the facility. Eventually it’s hoped that we will be able to make available some drop-in capacity at the site. Find out more here.
Also this month our local drive through testing site moved from Hopwood Hall College to Rochdale Football Club and it continues to test key workers from health, social care and educational settings. Almost 200 staff, volunteers and residents from Springhill Hospice were recently tested and the service received excellent feedback. A number who tested positive have now isolated appropriately.
Locally there are now only four care homes closed by infection control. Our borough still has the lowest percentage of infections in Greater Manchester. Care home staffing in the borough is currently good with 93 per cent of staff available for work.
Away from the frontline, we have been embracing virtual meetings throughout this lockdown period and have already carried out a number of formal and informal meetings using online platforms. Last week our Primary Care Commissioning Committee was held as such, with public attendance possible via an email invitation. You can catch up on the papers from the meeting here.
Our Governing Body meeting on Friday 17 July 2020 will also be on an online meeting to be live streamed on the CCG’s youtube channel. Find out more in our latest news section of the website and on social media in the coming weeks.
Thanks for joining me, until next month.
Dr Chris Duffy