HEALTH officials are asking people to continue to support their local GP practices during the Covid-19 pandemic.
To ensure patients and staff are kept safe during the pandemic, all GP surgeries are required to ask patients to contact them first, before turning up at their local practice.
Most patients do this by phone, resulting in long waits to get through to their surgery, often leading to patients feeling frustrated.
Practices are now providing alternative ways to contact their GP more easily, to avoid long waits on the phone.
Dr Janet Walker, medical director at NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Since the pandemic started, GPs have had to make huge changes to the way they work – like consulting with patients before they attend the practice. This means many more calls both in and out of surgeries, and we know that some patients are finding it frustrating having to wait for their call to be answered.
“Our practices have changed their systems and installed extra phone lines, but the sheer number of patients calling in and GPs calling out means they are still under pressure.
“Patients can help by considering other ways of making contact, where that is appropriate.”
GP help or advice is available by completing an e-Consult form, using the NHS app or your practice’s website.
Patients complete the online e-Consult form and the practice team will advise on the best way to meet your needs. If a video, phone or e-mail consultation is required, your practice will let you know. All online requests receive a response within two working days.
e-Consult also allows patients to access information on health conditions, self-care and local pharmacy services.
Patients can also register for an online account with their practice, so they can order medication, view their patient record or see test results, using the practice website or the NHS app.
“All our practices are working hard to provide the best possible care for everyone,” added Dr Walker. “The support we have received from patients is really appreciated during this difficult time.
“The range of technology now available to practices offers more choice for everyone, but it’s also an opportunity for patients to help us work better.”
Further details of GP online services are available on local practice websites.