The NHS has put in place measures to ensure the safety of all patients and NHS staff while also ensuring services are available to the public as normal.
The risk to the general public is moderate. If you have arrived back to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau within 14 days, follow the specific advice for returning travellers.
Anyone who has travelled to China or places listed above in the last 14 days and develops symptoms of cough or fever or shortness of breath, should immediately:
· Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu
· Call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the country
Information for the public is available at gov.uk/coronavirus.
Like the common cold, coronavirus infection usually occurs through close contact with a person with novel coronavirus via cough and sneezes or hand contact. A person can also be infected by touching contaminated surfaces if they do not wash their hands.
The risk of being in close contact with a person with coronavirus or contaminated surfaces is very low at the current time, as members of the public who have visited Wuhan, Hubei province, China are currently in isolation.
Testing of suspected coronavirus cases is carried out in line with strict regulations. This means that suspected cases are kept in isolation, away from public areas of the GP practice and returned home also in isolation. Any equipment that come into contact with suspected cases are thoroughly cleaned as appropriate. Specific guidance has also been shared with NHS staff to help safeguard them and others. Patients can be reassured that their safety is a top priority, and are encouraged to attend all appointments as usual.
Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:
· Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
· Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
You can find the latest information and advice from Public Health England at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
COVID-19 Contingency Sharing
Primary care staff across each borough will be able to access your full medical record without consent during the COVID-19 pandemic but will only do so when this is necessary to provide you with care. They will be required to use a smartcard which confirms their identity, and which limits their access and actions to those appropriate for their role. They will all have been trained to understand their professional and legal responsibilities in providing you with care.
Coronavirus pandemic: information for the public about changes to NHS services
NHS staff are working flat out to cope with an unprecedented health emergency. We need the public to help us by following our advice and using NHS services in the right way.
You MUST follow the government advice on hand-washing and stay at home unless you need to go out for essential reasons. If you have to leave your home, keep at least one metre, and ideally two metres, away from other people.
You can read the latest public health advice for you and your family here
We want to update you about changes we have had to make to NHS services, to help us deal with the coronavirus pandemic. These temporary changes will help us to focus all our efforts and resources in the best way to tackle the covid-19 outbreak.
Our GP practices are focused on helping their patients who have COVID-19 and are not operating normally, but are all open 8am-6.30.
If you think you have covid-19 symptoms, you should always use the 111 online service for advice. If you cannot get online, telephone 111. Do not go to your GP surgery as this may lead to the virus spreading further, including to practice staff.
If you need a GP appointment about another matter, you should stay at home and ring the practice in the first instance.
We are setting up special GP-run clinics in Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster for patients who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and need to see a doctor. Doctors from the local NHS will staff these clinics. More information about these clinics will be available very soon
We know that some GPs and their staff are likely to become unwell or to have to self-isolate. This will put general practices under pressure. To deal with this, local practices are working together in networks to support each other. It is possible that if you need to see or speak to a GP, you will be given an appointment with a different doctor or practice to the one you usually see.
Our hospitals are focused on treating people who have COVID-19. Do not go to hospital if you think you have COVID-19 symptoms. You should always use the 111 online service for advice. If you cannot get online, telephone 111. You should only call an ambulance in what you think is a life-threatening situation.
Operations and surgery that are not clinically urgent or emergencies are being delayed as we need our doctors and nurses to focus on dealing with the pandemic. We are sorry we have delayed treatment and hope to return to business as usual as soon as possible.
Our hospitals have dedicated areas for treating covid-19 patients, to keep them separate from other patients. The hospitals are working closely together so that if one hospital has a high number of cases, patients needing a bed may be transferred to another local hospital.
Hospital visiting has had to be restricted to one person per patient and visiting hours have been reduced.
Emergency care for patients who do not have COVID-19 symptoms
Emergency care for patients whose condition is serious but not related to COVID-19 will continue as normal. In a life threatening l emergency, you should call 999 as usual.
During this period, we will not be offering outpatient appointments except in the most urgent cases. The hospital will contact patients and some follow-up appointments may be by telephone.
How can you help?
We are grateful for your understanding of the pressures on the NHS in this difficult period.
The best way in which you can help is to follow the public health advice. Wash your hands regularly, every time you enter or leave your home, and at least once an hour. Avoid all unnecessary travel unless you are a critical worker. Work from home if possible. If you have to go outside for any reason, follow the guidance on social distancing. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you must stay at home for at least 7 days. If a member of your household has been infected but you have not been, you should stay at home for 14 days.
Please also follow this advice on how to use NHS services. The 111 online service should be the first place you go for advice. https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19