The doctors at the Market Cross Surgery are writing to all of our patients to explain some of the difficulties that all general practices across the country are facing. You will know that the coronavirus pandemic has led to considerable changes in the way that our GP services are delivered. At our surgery, we have continued to see patients face-to-face when necessary throughout the pandemic and we will for now be continuing our total triage system of assessing patients’ problems remotely before deciding with the patient on the best course of action.
Currently we are seeing an unprecedented increase in workload as well as dealing with the effects of the backlog of hospital work that has built up as a result of the pandemic, an effect felt throughout the country. All this while also preparing for the prospect of an expanded influenza programme this autumn against the background of significant difficulties recruiting clinical staff. We are grateful to our medical, nursing, administrative, dispensing and reception staff for the hard work and long days that they are working at this time.
We wish to continue providing a high standard of care in a timely way, prioritising those patients in most urgent need. We do not want patients to be put off consulting us for serious and worrying health concerns. In order to help us maintain services to those most in need of them, we wanted to write to all of our patients to remind them of the following alternative and excellent NHS services available and to which patients can self-refer without the need to contact the practice. Examples of such services are:
Community pharmacists and chemists – highly trained and experienced, able to help with arange of minor complaints including colds, congestion, earache, sore eyes, bites and stings, hay fever, short-term joint pains and strains, skin rashes, sore throats and constipation/diarrhoea.
NHS physio services (Allied Health Professionals) – patients can self-refer for more persistent joint and back pains and receive an expert assessment and advice/treatment. Contact on-line at https://physioselfrefer.co.uk or telephone 0333 043 3966
Mental health problems – problems such as anxiety, stress or depression can be helped by contacting Suffolk Wellbeing, an NHS service accessed on-line at www.wellbeingnands.co.uk or telephone 0300 123 1503 Monday – Friday 8am – 8pm.
For younger patients aged 11 -25 years old, there is an NHS service called the Emotional Wellbeing Hub, contacted by telephone on 0345 600 2090 (Monday – Friday 8am – 7.30pm) and an on-line resource called Kooth (https://www.thesource.me.uk/health/kooth)
Support for parents struggling to help their child/teenager with mental health or behavioural problems is available at https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/children-families- and-learning/childcare-information-and-support-for-parents-and-providers/parent-hub/
Foot problems can be treated by Suffolk Podiatry – access at https://www.podiatryreferrals.co.uk/
Sexual health and contraception are provided by iCash ( accessed on-line at https://www.icash.nhs.uk/where-to-go/icash-suffolk)
Social prescriber service – a valuable free service offering the following:
- debt and benefits advice
- volunteering opportunities within Mildenhall
- health and fitness groups, such as walking, cycling and dance
- support groups
- arts and culture groups
- history groups
- sports clubs and activities.
Each of these services is free and is expert in its particular area of work. Please familiarise yourself with the range of help available through self-referral. Remember that we receive reports to the surgery from many of these services concerning the actions that they have taken to help individual patients.
e-consult – available through our website https://www.marketcross-surgery.co.uk/ for non-urgent problems and administrative requests such as sick notes for work. Remember the section on e-consult called “I want to help myself” – a very helpful source of information, videos and useful advice about a wide range of problems. If you are a parent of young children, there is a specific resource accessed under www.whenshouldiworry.com which explains what to expect with common childhood illnesses.
Remember that whilst we have no influence over hospital waiting lists, we appreciate how frustrating it can be waiting for investigations, procedures and operations. West Suffolk Hospital has a dedicated helpline for patients allowing patients to check on progress with dates for their procedure/operation: 01284 713713
As we have already said, we do not want patients to be put off from consulting us for serious or worrying health concerns. However, every patient who is able to use one of the resources listed above to sort out their problem without contacting the surgery is freeing up valuable practice staff time to deal with urgent and serious problems of other patients and the surgery to maintain the high standard of timely care to which it aspires.
The doctors at the surgery remain very grateful to our practice population for the understanding and support that they have shown over the last difficult 18 months.
Thank you for reading this letter.